Although urban and suburban school superintendents serve the largest group of students in terms of sheer numbers of schoolchildren, there are actually more superintendents serving in rural school districts in the United States. I examined the expected roles or “hats” of the rural superintendent by collecting data from several districts located in NE Colorado. Interviews of school board members and superintendents provided data, which suggested that the expected roles of a rural superintendent are multiple and varied. Five major themes or “hats” emerged that rural communities expected their superintendent to wear. These themes or hats included those of manager, planner, listener, communicator, and community involvement. Included in each of these major themes were many subcategories of hats that are forced on the heads of rural superintendents by their communities and by events that occur daily. This study suggests that there are differences in the expectations of rural superintendents from those serving urban or suburban districts. Administrator training programs at colleges and universities might better serve those students aspiring to rural superintendent positions by offering a specialization in rural school administration or at least offering a separate course designed to cover these unique expectations.


Superintendents, Qualitative Research, Rural, Leadership, Expectations

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