Date of Award

Spring 4-3-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership


Department of Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Laurie Dias

Second Advisor

Iván M. Jorrín Abellán

Third Advisor

Rachel E. Gains


Career Technical Education (CTE), including Career Technical Agricultural Education (CTAE) in Georgia, are experiencing difficulty retaining quality teachers. This problem is exacerbated in rural communities, which have a smaller workforce pool and fewer nearby colleges to certify CTE/CTAE teachers (Morton, 2021). A potential solution to offset teacher retention concerns is teacher leadership. When teachers are given opportunities to take on leadership roles, they are likely to feel more valued and experience increased self-efficacy and perceptions of ability (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009). The purpose of this phenomenographic study was to examine whether a teacher leadership Professional Learning Community (PLC) enhanced teachers' self-perceived leadership skills and the degree of professional support they receive and whether it influenced overall job satisfaction. The following research question guided the study: What are the variations of rural CTAE teachers’ perceptions of leadership ability, professional support, and overall job satisfaction after participating in a teacher leadership PLC?

Five participants from five different rural counties across Georgia were selected to participate in this research study. Data collection methods included one semi-structured interview with each participant, one focus group interview with all participants, and three researcher reflective journaling entries to triangulate the data. Process supports included the 7-Step Strategy by Sjostrom and Dahlgren (2002) to assist with analyzing documents, Microsoft TEAMS to facilitate conversations and dialogue, and ATLAS ti.v9 to analyze and code-related data.

The rural CTAE participants in this study had diverse and insightful perceptions. While they attended similar PLC sessions and connected with many of the same state leaders, their experiences varied in how they perceived their local school system and administrators. Dolly acknowledged the importance of conducting leadership assessments for teachers, which confirmed her interest in pursuing CTAE leadership opportunities within her local school system. Meanwhile, Loretta and Gladys leveraged the teacher leadership PLC to strengthen connections with their local administrators and used the PLC as a means to enhance leadership opportunities and establish new relationships.

Regarding professional support, the PLC reinforced Clint’s appreciation for his school system's commitment to developing teacher capacity. Although George did not report having as much local support as other participants, the PLC empowered him to establish his own professional network and enabled him to address professional gaps that his small, rural system couldn't fulfill. Job satisfaction also varied among participants. Dolly found satisfaction as the PLC confirmed her desire for CTAE administration, Loretta’s satisfaction increased from improved relationships with local administrators, and Gladys found satisfaction in bridging the gap between counselors and CTAE teachers. Clint's satisfaction grew as the PLC reaffirmed his career choice, departing from the private sector and technical education. Despite reporting less local support, LEAD CTAE enabled George to establish his own support network, ultimately leading to securing a CTAE Director position post-graduation.