Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Anthony Annunziato

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Ann Macaluso


The purpose of this study is to discover how flattening the educational hierarchy by creating career ladders for teachers as teacher leaders can help elevate teachers to a professional status and elevate their professional self-perceptions. A historical look at education yields a field that has been embattled by politicians, philanthropists, intellectuals, business leaders, social scientists, media outlets, activists, and the public (Goldstein, 2015; Mehta, 2013b, 2013a). Isolation is an ingrained factor that is inherent in the profession itself. There is very little emphasis on sustained learning and growth. Teaching, like nursing, social work, and other highly feminized fields, does not and has not fully possessed any of the characteristics of a profession (Mehta, 2013b; Mehta et al., 2012). On the other hand, the tenets of teacher leadership seek to elevate the profession, by using the knowledge and expertise of teachers to inform building and district policy, pedagogy, instruction and curricular needs on a local and national level. The study focuses on a gap in the literature in terms of the self-perceptions that teachers have of their own professionalism within a teacher leadership implementation program. The study employs an intrinsic case study design with focus groups, one-to-one interviews, and analysis of implementation documents to identify how creating and implementing a formal teacher leadership program can be an avenue to reinstate teachers as professionals. The findings of the study support the theoretical and conceptual framework and demonstrate that the implementation of a teacher leadership program can indeed be used to elevate teachers to the status of true professions both in theory and in practice. These findings, specifically around research question two, could have broad implications for cultural and psychological documentation in positions of power. Future research is needed to determine if expansive claims can be made for encouraging current and future generations of women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQ+ community to lead beyond the classroom and create pathways and opportunities so that they feel supported in that work. The conclusions that the study recommends are for policy makers, practitioners, and higher education institutions.