PSYCH  Vol.5 No.5 , April 2014
Leadership and Faith in a School Tragedy: A School Principal’s Perspective
Author(s) Ruth Tarrant*
ABSTRACT

On April 15, 2008, six students (aged 16 years) and one teacher (aged 29 years) from a New Zealand school lost their lives in a river canyoning tragedy. The present study investigated the school principal’s perspective of how he led his school through the tragedy, and the role of faith in the school’s coping. The school principal was interviewed two years after the event. The school’s Christian foundation was the fundamental source of strength and guidance for the principal, as well as for students, staff, teachers, and families in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and in the two years following (i.e., to the time of the present study), the Christian culture of the school guiding decision-making. Support from outside the school (e.g. critical incident support; teaching support from other schools; social support from community agencies and civic leaders) also played an important role in assisting the school through the tragedy, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the event. Further studies are required that allow the voices of children, families and school staff to be heard regarding leadership strategies that impact on them through a disaster.


Cite this paper
Tarrant, R. (2014). Leadership and Faith in a School Tragedy: A School Principal’s Perspective. Psychology, 5, 413-420. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.55051.
References
[1]   Auckland Primary Principals Association (2008). HPPA Conference Summary. Auckland Primary Principals Association.
http://www.appa.org.nz/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=89508

[2]   Bussell, V. A., & Naus, M. J. (2010). A Longitudinal Investigation of Coping and Posttraumatic Growth in Breast Cancer Surviviors. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 28, 61-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07347330903438958

[3]   Cornell, D. G., & Sheras, P. L. (1998). Common Errors in School Crisis Response: Learning from Our Mistakes. Psychology in the Schools, 35, 297-307. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6807(199807)35:3<297::AID-PITS9>3.0.CO;2-K

[4]   Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2011). Special Honours List—2 April 2011.
http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/list.asp?id=51

[5]   Holy Bible (Biblica, 2011). Contemporary English Version.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search

[6]   Joshi, P. T., & Lewin, S. M. (2004). Disaster, Terrorism, and Children. Psychiatric Annals, 34, 710-717.

[7]   Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Handbook of Religion and Health. New York: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195118667.001.0001

[8]   Laufer, A., Raz-Hamama, Y., Levine, S. Z., & Solomon, Z. (2009). Posttraumatic Growth in Adolescence: The Role of Religiosity, Distress, and Forgiveness. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 862-880.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2009.28.7.862

[9]   McCarthy, J. F., O’Connell, D. J., & Hall, D. T. (2005). Leading Beyond the Tragedy: The Balance of Personal Identity and Adaptability. Leadership and Organisational Development Journal, 26, 458-475.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/01437730510617663

[10]   Meisenhelder, J. B. (2002). Terrorism, Posttraumatic Stress, and Religious Coping. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 23, 771-782. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01612840260433659

[11]   Ministry of Education (2010). School Types.
http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Boards/EffectiveGovernance/FlexibilityBoardStructures/
SchoolingStructuresAndGovernanceOptions.aspx


[12]   O’Leary, V. E. (1998). Strength in the Face of Adversity: Individual and Social Thriving. Journal of Social Issues, 54, 425-446. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1998.tb01228.x

[13]   Tix, A. P., & Frazier, P. A. (1998). The Use of Religious Coping during Stressful Life Events: Main Effects, Moderation, and Mediation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 411-422.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.66.2.411

[14]   Wane, J. (2009). New Zealander of the Year. Overall Winner: Murray Burton. North & South, 37-43.

 
 
Top