This quantitative research study was developed to support school principals leading in urban school settings with rates of poverty crime, and violence with a need for a set of skills to create a positive school culture with kindness, empathy, and compassion. To prepare administrators for the stressors of working in an urban school setting, a leader must be able to maintain effectiveness under stressful, or even hostile, conditions. Thus, school principals must improve their Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competency skills to be effective in creating a positive school culture with kindness, empathy, and compassion. This research study utilized a quantitative, correlation-design approach to examine the positive correlation between staff perceptions of a secondary school principal's leadership effectiveness with customer service and interpersonal skills with students' sense of belonging in the same urban school. To answer the research question based on dichotomous student data (agree versus not agree), chi-square tests were performed. To measure the level of positive correlation between the staff perceptions of leadership and student, Cramer's V tests were used. Results from this study indicated that students reported higher overall sense of belonging for schools having principals with high scores for communicating effectively (64.4%), having principals with high scores (62.6%) for treating people with respect, and having principals with high scores (62.6%) for working collaboratively with others. For all 18 chi-square tests, a positive relationship was found between the student's sense of belonging and ratings of the principal's leadership abilities based on staff perceptions. Findings from this quantitative research can be used to enhance educator preparation programs in universities and be a beginning for more future research for school districts to improve key performance indicators such as chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, test scores, and graduation rates.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; High school principals -- Case studies; High school students; Education, Secondary; Urban high schools

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harvey, Andrew;