In a groundbreaking regional partnership, The Holdsworth Center will expand its best-in-class leadership development programs to school and district leaders in the Permian Basin region starting this summer.
The expansion is made possible through a $6.1 million investment by a Midland foundation and a coalition of 20 energy companies in the region. The Scharbauer Foundation will give $1.5 million, with the Permian Strategic Partnership contributing $4.6 million.
“We believe investing in educational leadership is fundamental for securing a prosperous future in the Permian Basin,” said Tracee Bentley, president and CEO of the Permian Strategic Partnership. “The Holdsworth Center has proven to be an exceptional partner, equipping public school leaders with the tools, skills and top tier training we need to elevate the quality of education in our region.”
Over the next two years, the goal is to strengthen the leadership skills of up to 100 principals, assistant principals, teachers and district administrators, and to build stronger talent development opportunities in the region’s largest school systems.
“Because school leaders are ‘first responders’ who provide learning opportunities and hope for our children and families, we are proud to partner in this important initiative,” said Grant Billingsley, president and CEO of Scharbauer Foundation, Inc.
Holdsworth will select a cohort of 24 Permian Basin schools and districts to participate in its 2-year Campus Leadership Program, which helps teams of leaders strengthen their leadership muscles and learn new ways to tackle issues standing in the way of student success.
In addition, three of the region’s largest districts will participate in the Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative, a program designed to help district leaders build a strong bench of aspiring principals.
But instead of Permian school leaders traveling to the Campus on Lake Austin for learning sessions, Holdsworth will be coming to them.
That’s a big deal, said Dr. Scott Muri, superintendent of Ector County ISD, one of the region’s largest districts. The Permian Basin is vast and far from the state’s major urban centers. Distance is a barrier for leaders who want to attend professional development conferences or work with mentors.
“We don’t often attract this level of high-quality professional development to our area,” Muri said. “The feedback I’ve heard from colleagues is that the Holdsworth experience is exceptional. There are leadership development programs, and then there’s Holdsworth. They’re in a league of their own.”
According to Muri, having a great principal in every school is a priority for a region that’s struggled to attract and retain people through boom-and-bust cycles tied to the energy industry.
Great principals not only hold onto great teachers, they inspire teachers and students to do their best work and rise to high expectations, Muri said.
COVID turmoil and worsening educator shortages have forced districts to deplete their benches, which means the current crop of principals are relatively new. And they’re hungry for learning that will help them grow as leaders.
“This investment has the power to transform the caliber of leadership in our schools throughout the Permian Basin. It is going to raise the bar for leaders in our systems,” Muri said.
Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of Holdsworth, agreed: “The only way to achieve better results for students is to invest deeply in the dedicated educators who serve them. We are grateful to PSP and Scharbauer for their vision and commitment to student success and are eager to lift up and strengthen educators in the Permian Basin region.”