Leadership and Faith in a School Tragedy: A School Principal’s Perspective


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.

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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.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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