Cedar Hill ISD, Dallas ISD, and Garland ISD were selected by the Holdsworth Center, a nonprofit founded by the Chairman of Texas Based H-E-B Supermarkets in his mothers name, to train principals to be better leaders.
The training is valued at $6 million and is designed to grow strong, skilled leaders who create conditions for teachers to thrive and students to get what they need to succeed.
"You won't have to fight for that one teacher that everyone adores you're going to have an army of great teachers," said Dr. Ricardo Lopez, Superintendent, Garland ISD.
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The timing for Dallas, Cedar Hill and Garland though is huge. Post pandemic school principals are under more pressure than ever to get kids to bounce back.
"What we thought were great principals before," said Lopez. "The game is going to be enhanced. The precision of a new campus leader is going to be like nothing we've seen before."
"Our ability as a state to recover from the impact of a global pandemic will depend on the skillful leadership of teachers, principals and district leaders serving Texas' 5.5 million students," Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center, said. "We recognize the urgency of this moment and are honored to play a role."
According to the Holdsworth Center, the six districts serve nearly 265,000 students at close to 400 schools and employ 36,000 faculty and staff.
The six districts were chosen from a pool of 43 applicants, a 130% increase from the last application period in 2019, the Holdsworth Center said.
The selection marks the latest expansion of The Holdsworth Partnership that now serves 19 school districts in Texas. By 2028, the partnership is expected to reach more than 4,500 educators, including teacher leaders, assistant principals, principals, and central office administrators, the Holdsworth Center said.
Arlington ISD and Grand Prairie ISD were chosen to join the Holdsworth Partnership in 2017, while Mesquite ISD was selected to join the partnership in 2019.
Lopez said Mesquite's success with the program was a significant reason they applied.
The Holdsworth Partnership involves a combination of district and campus leadership programs, district support, and district coaching over a five year period.
During the first two years, superintendents and their teams will participate in learning sessions with top leadership experts and visit high-performing organizations in the U.S. and abroad, the Holdsworth Center said. Each team will work together to define what great leadership looks like and collaborate to identify and develop leaders from within the organization.
Starting in the second year, cohorts of school principals and their teams will begin a two-year learning journey similar to district leaders, which includes executive coaching for principals and examining school culture and student outcomes.
"An effective elementary teacher can affect 22 kids at one time," said Dr. Gerald Hudson, Superintendent, Cedar Hill ISD. "An effective principal you multiply that."
The program, which will be rolled out in four phases, aims to serve 50% of campuses in each partner district over the five-year period.
The Holdsworth Center said staff members on the Holdsworth district support team will also be embedded in the partner districts over the five-year period. Superintendents and district team leaders will receive one-on-one executive coaching and feedback from stakeholders as well.
According to the Holdsworth Center, the programs are designed with the belief that 70% of a leader’s development occurs through job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others or coaching, and 10% from formal educational events.
According to the Holdsworth Center, the goal with each cohort is to represent the diversity of Texas.
The 13 partner districts chosen in 2017 and 2019 educate a student population range of 6,000 to 67,000 with a mix of demographics, the Holdsworth Center said.
For future cohorts, the Holdsworth Center said it looks for public school districts that want to improve and see developing leaders as a priority in providing excellent and equitable outcomes for all Texas students.