Announcement of Ed.D. Dissertation Defense IMAN F. ELDESSOUKY: “Leadership Experiences in Religious Schools: A Qualitative Study Examining Principals’ Perspectives on Factors that Hinder and Enhance their Performance as School Leaders”
Islamic schools are expected to provide an excellent academic and religious education to all students (Brifkani, 2017). A strong principal is integral in creating a learning environment and school culture that are conducive to academic excellence, continuous improvement, and religious spirituality (Aabed, 2006). However, the lack of stable leadership has become a challenge in Islamic schools across the country (Qadri, 2014). There is limited scholarly literature that addresses leadership experiences in Islamic schools in the United States. With the continuous growth of Islamic schools in the United States, knowledge of their operation, leadership styles and leaders’ experiences must be included in the literature of religious school leadership. It is also important for the American society to become socially aware of the intentions and practices of Islamic schools to alter the stereotyping and prejudice against Muslims. However, academic studies on Islamic education issues in general and Islamic leadership in particular are deficient (Senzai, 2009). With the pressing need to conduct research on these topics to assist Muslim school leaders in improving their schools and to broaden the understanding of Islamic education for the public, this study was conducted to add to the literature and to help inform policies pertaining to Islamic school Boards and how they operate. This study investigated the principals’ perspectives on factors that hinder and enhance their performance as school leaders. The aim was to explore the challenges that principals faced and that impacted their morale and ability to lead their schools. The study also sought to explore the structures and practices that they utilized and perceived as beneficial to remain in their positions. To further understand both the challenges and the support systems in Islamic schools, this study sought to compare and contrast challenges and support systems of the leadership in other private religious schools, especially Catholic and Jewish schools. The goal was to identify challenges as well as best practices for effective leadership in private religious schools.