Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Barbara Cozza

Second Advisor

Anthony Annunziato

Third Advisor

Rosalba Del Vecchio


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to gain an understanding of what school innovation looks like as well as how school and district leaders address the concept. Technology has forever changed society. We must be careful not to confuse school innovation as the implementation of technology in the classroom. Educational leaders face the challenge of engaging students in meaningful learning opportunities that go beyond rote memorization and performance on standardized assessments following NCLB and Common Core. This study identifies characteristics of school culture that are necessary for innovation to take place. Principal and district leaders have to be knowledgeable as well as be willing to provide teachers with autonomy to make decisions and take informed educational risks in their instruction. Qualitative data from a school district on Long Island New York identified for innovative instructional practices provides insight into the phenomenon of innovation. Interviews conducted of teachers as well as school and district leaders provided the data. Interpretive themes evolved from the interviews as well as collected artifacts. Self Determination Theory provided a theoretical framework for the study in order understand teacher motivation to engage in innovative practices. Findings from the study indicate that a relationship exists between innovation and teacher autonomy, relatedness, and competency. Leadership style and the establishment of trust within the organization are also essential to innovation.