Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


The term rebel is virtually nonexistent in academic literature within the field of educational leadership and maintains a generally negative connotation. This research is intended to cast the term in a new light and allow for conceptualization of the word as a positive descriptor for educational leaders. This study explored the impact and efficacy of rebel superintendents within suburban K-12 public school districts. Following a sequential explanatory mixed method design, participant selection was conducted using the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) as a quantitative participant selection tool. Nine superintendents were identified using the KAI and interviewed. Three superintendents were identified as high innovators; three were identified as mild to moderate adaptors; and, three superintendents were identified as mild innovators. The mild innovators group served as a control group for comparison. No participants were identified as high adaptors in this study.

Superintendents who scored as high innovators readily met the criteria of an educational rebel. These rebels inherently resisted the status quo across roles and settings and preferred using the ethic of critique to challenge the limits of the current paradigm to effect change in the system. High innovators did not use the ethic of care as a preferred lens for decision making and instead were found to use coping behaviors to fit their cognitive style into the current system. Highly innovative superintendents were imbued with a strong sense of motivation and low self-doubt that allowed them to access energy for coping with the current system for longer periods of time. Highly innovative superintendents reported feeling effective at instituting change in the system, but evidence indicated the type of change implemented required system-wide shifts that were met with resistance by the system. Mild innovators and mild to moderate adaptors demonstrated some rebel characteristics but not consistently or pervasively across settings.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.