This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Alabama Early Childhood Education Leadership: COVID-19, Where Did the Impact Leave Us?




Martin, Katherine

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


This study explores the experiences of ten leaders within the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic forced closures and adaptations across early childhood education programs, these leaders played a crucial role in maintaining operations and supporting stakeholders. The research examines how they navigated the challenges of closures, reopenings, and evolving safety protocols while ensuring the well-being of staff, students, and teachers. Through interviews with the ADECE leaders, the study identifies recurring themes that shaped their experiences. It explores how the ADECE adapted its policies and procedures while ensuring core principles remained intact. The research and this study highlight the leadership approaches that fostered sustainability within the ECE system. Additionally, the research examined three leadership theories relevant to the needs of Early Childhood Education (ECE) organizations during crises: distributive leadership theory, talent-centered leadership theory, and sensemaking theory. The findings underscore the importance of adaptable leadership styles, such as distributive leadership, in crisis situations. This study offers valuable insights for current and future leaders in the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE), providing strategies for navigating uncertainty and fostering a more resilient ECE system. This research serves as a reference point for the ADECE's ongoing development and preparedness for future challenges.