Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




successful principals, teachers, poverty, elementary schools


Students enter the school systems with a variety of needs and experiences, each unique to themselves. Unfortunately, many students and their families experience the effects of poverty, and these circumstances shape those school students’ unique needs. As the current times become more challenging, principals and teachers are faced with great demands to meet the needs of the students they serve. High-poverty schools need the expertise of successful principals who are aware of and acknowledge the impact of poverty on student learning; and are able to assist teachers to not only understand the impact poverty has on students’ social and academic learning but to provide supports to help students become successful learners. This hybrid thesis model used an exploratory case study and elements of an Organization Improvement Plan to examine how successful principals can assist teachers in high-poverty elementary schools understand the impact of poverty on student learning? And, how can they assist teachers in enhancing their teaching practices to improve student learning? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two elementary school principals and 16 elementary school teachers in one Ontario School Board. The research findings provided unique insights into the work being done by successful principals and teachers striving to move high-poverty schools to high-performing schools. The analysis of the findings led to future recommendations being provided to the school board for their utilization in school improvement planning in service to students, teachers, and principals.

Keywords: poverty, essential needs, lived experiences, relationships, successful principals, teachers, professional development