I first stepped foot on what is now the Campus on Lake Austin five years ago, when The Holdsworth Center was still an idea taking shape on paper.
Covered in trees and cattle, a muddy dirt road sliced down a steep hill through the heart of the property towards the lake. I remember stepping gingerly around soggy grass in my work shoes, straining to envision what this land could become.
My most ambitious visions couldn’t sketch the reality of 2021.
By the end of this year, The Holdsworth Center will have served 850 education leaders across Texas through leadership programs, coaching, and hands-on support to help districts build their own bench of strong leaders. The journeys we’ve witnessed have been full of struggle and joy, huge wins and major setbacks. (Pandemics, winter storms and more!)
Across our partner districts, on campuses and in the actions of individual leaders, there is evidence of change taking root.
And now this month, after operating out of hotels and over Zoom for four years, we welcomed leaders to our permanent home – a $200 million campus on the shores of Lake Austin.
A rendering come to life
The physical presence of the campus is beyond what any of us could have imagined – it’s one thing to look at a rendering, quite another to gaze out the windows of the pavilion at the tall cypress trees lining the shores.
It almost felt surreal to see the space come to life with conversation, laughter, hugs and even tears when our first leaders came to the campus this month to celebrate their graduation from the 2-year Campus Leadership Program.
To learn more about campus features and take a virtual tour, visit the Campus on Lake Austin microsite.
A gift to educators
When H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt founded Holdsworth in 2017, he envisioned its campus as a monument to public schools and a gift to the hardworking educators who lead them. It was designed as a place of reflection and renewal, a beacon of light and hope and a tangible reminder of educators’ worth and the critical value of their work.
He believes that public school leaders are nation builders who are helping to shape our collective future and they deserve rigorous professional learning in a world-class setting.
When you come onto campus, one of the first things you see is a metal badge mounted on the administration building that sums it up perfectly: Public education holds worth.
In service to public education
After the challenges of the past year and a half, the timing couldn’t be better.
“The positive thing is that we get to come to this (campus) at the end of a really tough year,” said Nicole Patin, principal of Klein Cain High School in Klein ISD in the Houston area. Nicole and her team were among the first leaders on campus this month celebrating the end of a two-year learning journey with Holdsworth.
As an education leader, “your mind is constantly going all the time,” she said. “When you walk onto this campus, it is so beautiful and serene and quiet.”
A measure of permanence
This campus is the beginning of what we at Holdsworth hope will be a long legacy of service to public education and the people who dedicate their lives to the profession.
It also gives our work a measure of permanence, ensuring we will be around to follow through on our ambitious mission and to see many generations of leaders coming through these doors, transforming themselves, transforming their schools and transforming the lives of the students they serve.
Nicole expressed beautifully her hopes for the thousands of leaders who will follow her onto the campus.
“I hope they take the opportunity to breathe – take the time for yourself, do some reflection about your own leadership, take a step back to see what’s best for your team and your students. Being on this campus and in this environment sets a pretty amazing stage for that to happen.”