Ann Ertl


Spring 2023



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Dr. Linnette Werner

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Dr. Jinger Gustafson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Leanne Kampfe


Ertl, A. (2023). Measuring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Minnesota Superintendents: “We did our best while we weren’t at our best” This dissertation explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Minnesota superintendents and contributes to the literature on the pandemic’s impact on education. By employing a statewide survey and grounded theory approach, the research investigates the lived experiences of superintendents during the pandemic and addresses gaps in understanding the specific effects on this group. The central research question focuses on how two years of the pandemic influenced the day-to-day work of Minnesota superintendents. The study’s findings highlight the increased demands, pressure and strains faced by superintendents as a result of the pandemic. The research design involved a survey that included open-ended comments from superintendents, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of their experiences. The qualitative analysis of the comments provided valuable insights into the challenges and concerns expressed by superintendents. The study reveals that the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing issues faced by superintendents such as financial management, personnel management, stress, work-life balance, and time requirements, while introducing high levels of community and staff polarization to the strains of the role. These findings underscore the need to address the challenges faced by superintendents and support their well-being to ensure stability and continuity in educational leadership. It suggests the need for a further evolution in the superintendent roles, focusing on community building and healing. The findings also highlight the importance of superintendent well-being, the role of technology in alleviating administrative burdens, and the potential for policy-making to be less of a rule book and more of a collaborative community-based process. The author also identifies avenues for future research, including investigating the experiences of female superintendents, board relationships and factors contributing to job satisfaction and longevity in the role.


Leadership, School District Leadership; Superintendency; COVID-19 Pandemic








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