Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Justin Bathon


The COVD-19 pandemic caused a global disruption to education. In some parts of the United States, schools were cancelled for the year, while others shifted their educational offerings to a distance learning model. Kentucky announced short term closures beginning March 13, 2020, but on April 20th the Kentucky Governor announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Many school districts quickly developed a plan to continue a modified version of school. In Appalachia, some school leaders were uniquely prepared because their district had implemented a 1:1 device program. In a 1:1 program, every student is given a device to use at school, and most districts allow students to take the devices home.

Researchers have documented rural schools’ struggle to address unique issues such as funding, isolationism, and a lack of resources (Dolan, 2016; Hess & Leal, 2001). However, little research discusses school technology leadership (Flanagan & Jacobsen, 2003; McLeod, Bathon, & Richardson, 2011; McLeod & Richardson, 2011; Richardson & Sterrett, 2018). The core problem is that there is a shortage of research on school technology leadership of rural settings in general, but specifically, there is a lack of studies that focus on leadership practices for a 1:1 initiative in Appalachian school districts.

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of the leadership practices of school leaders in Appalachian school districts that implemented 1:1 technology initiatives before the COVID-19 pandemic and how that uniquely prepared them for continuing education during the pandemic. This study describes the leadership decisions and practices in school districts that are classified as distressed counties in Kentucky. Districts that have indicated that they have purchased devices for 1:1 implementation were used as case studies to identify effective leadership practices. The present study expands the current understanding of school technology leadership in high-poverty schools in Appalachia in the hopes of gaining more insight into technology access in this specific rural context, along with highlighting the challenges and success these districts have had during the pandemic.

Five school district leadership teams across the Appalachian region of Kentucky underwent an open-ended interview. Each leadership team was present before the pandemic and each district had implemented their district-wide program before the 2019-2020 school year. The interviews ranged from 30 minutes to 60 minutes and focused on leadership practices for 1:1 technology integration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All interview questions were open-ended questions focused on leadership practices for implementing technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questions were broken into five sections: (1) vision, (2) facilitating technology as part of a high-quality learning experience, (3) building professional capacity for technology integration, (4) creating a supportive organization for technology integration, and (5) connecting with external partners. The results were analyze through Bolman and Deal’s (2013) Four Frames of organizational change.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)