Across state lines, budget cuts in education are a reality, especially for those in remote and rural areas. With less financial support, some districts are looking to their state departments to be models of good practice for how to leverage and work within budgetary means, while also keeping up with the advancement in education seen around the world. The history of American schools has defined itself by keeping up globally to ensure its students can be global competitors.In order to continue on the path of educational excellence, there is a need to find innovative ways to continue to be supportive of one another through embedded, professional development and
systemic thinking. This concurrent mixed-methods research study looked to one state’s coaching project over the last seven years. This state utilized its own coaches as a means to grow and develop leadership capacity for system improvement, even when budget woes were at an all-time high. This study found three key findings: (a) all participants demonstrated positive levels of agreement that the coaches had the skillset identified by the researcher, engaged in actions that align to effective professional development, and that coaches were perceived to have an impact on leadership; (b) administrators and administrative coaches had the highest levels of agreement
with all survey items, and their views were consistently in agreement with no statistical
difference; and (c) school staff who were further removed from formal leadership roles were less aware of the skillset, actions, and effects of the coach, and although they had positive levels of agreement, the levels of agreement were statistically lower than that of the administrators and coaches. Essentially, staff members who served in some type of leadership capacity perceived to benefit from the administration receiving state coaching support, than those who did not. These findings will help this rural state to reexamine its structure not only to strengthen the project, but to be the model for other divisions within the department attempting to utilize state coaches throughout the state. Themes presented will also allow other state agencies to better assess their needs of implementing a statewide coaching project, especially for those from rural states.