Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Creed, Benjamin M.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


This dissertation examines the complexities of equity work in suburban high schools and the challenges in leading this work as a high school principal, and it is organized into three separate parts. Paper 1 is a review of the literature defining equity, examining equity of what, and delving into the many reasons why there is resistance to this work. All three of these topics are interrelated and help one to understand why creating schools that work for all students has become increasingly challenging work, and also, the most important work that we, as educators, must focus on to truly serve our students. Paper 2 is an analysis of the interviews conducted with thirteen high school principals who were asked questions pertaining to their vision of school leadership and view of equity in schools and how to move that work forward. They shared their experiences, successes, and challenges with both their roles and how they work to better serve all students. Paper 3 is an overview of a professional development workshop geared toward high school principals. This professional development workshop merges the information in papers 1 and 2 and pairs it down to the information that will, hopefully, help those leaders to move equity work forward in their buildings. The overview of this professional development details the rationale and components of each segment of the session. It is accompanied by a slide deck that will be used for this professional learning experience and to best engage this audience of high school principals. The purpose of these three segments, individually and collectively, is to help school leaders understand, navigate–and hopefully, overcome–the resistance to any equity initiatives that are being implemented in their school buildings. The hope is that this information will also contribute to the current research about this work particularly in suburban high schools for which the literature is lacking. The first paper contributes to this goal by providing an overview of the literature that is out there and the understanding as to why the resistance exists and in what forms it takes in a school setting. Following this, the principal interviews provide first-hand accounts, from the experiences and thoughts, of thirteen suburban high school principals who have been challenged to do this work and are finding it challenging. With the merging of the findings from both papers, the professional development workshop outlined in the third paper helps to carry this work forward with the audience, school leaders, that is meaningful and timely–and something that they can immediately consider and implement.


112 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type