Gottlieb, Derek

Committee Member

McConnell, Christy

Committee Member

Harding, Jennifer

Committee Member

Romero, Deborah


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



223 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The most important relationship to the life of an independent school has been the relationship between the head of school and the board of trustees. Still, most independent school heads have found that attending to their relationship with their board of trustees was one of the more challenging aspects of their work. Conventional wisdom and scholarship alike have suggested that this relationship could be especially trying for new independent school heads. The goal of this analytic autoethnographic study was to explore the performed emotional labor of new independent school heads in their relationship with their board of trustees during their first two years of service with the intention of deriving theoretical implications that would inform independent school leadership programs and the field of responsible independent school governance. The data for this study was collected through the autoethnographic examination of a variety of extant texts that captured my personal experiences as a complete member researcher, as well as two sets of intensive interviews with nine additional new independent school heads. The findings of this study revealed three sites of conflict: institutional challenges, role expectations, and trustee conduct that captured the circumstances where the inescapable power discrepancy between the head of school and the board of trustees demanded the performed emotional labor from new independent school heads adding additional work and led to feelings of inauthenticity, depersonalization, and emotional exhaustion. These findings indicated the need for independent school leadership to attend to the conditions that lead to the performed emotional labor of new heads and to consider effective ways to humanize the display rules of independent school governance in an effort to mitigate the most harmful implications of performed emotional labor by new independent school head.

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Available for download on Tuesday, August 01, 2023