The purpose of this study is to examine how first year rural superintendents approach the responsibilities and perceived challenges which they face during day-to-day operations. Furthermore, this study will attempt to describe how new rural superintendents engage in curricular development and instructional leadership and the implications these have on student learning. School districts around the country are rapidly looking to attain new people as their school leaders. According to Chapman (1997), rapid turnover in the superintendency is not only an endemic in large cities, but in rural communities as well (p. 4). Therefore, there is a need to understand the work of new, rural superintendents in districts across the country. With the rapid turn-over in educational leadership, first-year superintendents have demanding job duties to fulfill. The implications of shifting leadership impacts school districts in all aspects of the organization, especially the educational arena. Within the present literature there is a shortage of research on how new, rural superintendents address their roles. This study uses a survey and interviews to examine the roles of new, rural school district leaders. This study will utilize both quantitative and qualitative data. First, an existing survey of superintendents' roles will be administered to all new rural superintendents in Wisconsin. Secondly, interviews will be conducted to examine the relationships between the roles in which the superintendents take, the challenges that they face, and how each of these influence long-term district improvement. According to Hoyle, Bjork, Collier, and Glass (2005), instructional leadership has changed dramatically over the past decade, the notions of shared leadership, collaborative change processes, and a singular focus on enhancing student learning are driving efforts to re-conceptualize schooling in the United States (p. 156). The interviews will be designed so that information can be gathered regarding, the challenges school district leaders face in their first months, their instructional leadership roles, and the implications these have on student learning. This study will provide educational leaders with empirical data about the actions that new superintendents in rural school districts take to address challenges and improve student learning early in their work in a district.