We’re thrilled to announce a new, first-of-its-kind program for high-potential aspiring superintendents that’s designed to help leaders gain mastery of skills and mindsets needed to be an exceptional superintendent from day one.
In the Aspiring Superintendent Leadership Program, leaders will apply new skills immediately through special projects created in partnership with their superintendent.
“There’s nothing like this program in the marketplace,” said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Holdsworth’s Executive Superintendent-in-Residence. Cavazos recently retired from Arlington ISD, where he served as superintendent for 11 years. “It’s like a medical residency for superintendents. We’ll put them in as many real-life or simulated scenarios as possible to prepare them for a challenging, high-stakes job. It’s one thing to watch your superintendent run a board meeting, quite another when you’re the one in the hot seat answering tough questions.”
A group of 14 leaders will participate in the inaugural cohort, which begins today and lasts 15 months. Those leaders include:
In Texas, there are not enough high-quality programs to prepare and support superintendents in a very tough job. A great superintendent influences the success of every teacher, staff member and student in a district.
In 2021, Holdsworth launched the Superintendent Leadership Program to support superintendents as they navigate unprecedented challenges at a critical point in their career. Since 2017, the organization has partnered with over 50 superintendents across its various other leadership programs, and at least 19 Holdsworth-trained district leaders have become first-time superintendents.
Over time, Holdsworth’s aim is to design a comprehensive approach to strengthening the superintendent pipeline statewide.
“Having strong, resilient superintendents at the helm of all Texas districts is critical to improving outcomes for students in the face of great headwinds battering public education,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. “That’s going to require big investments in identifying and developing future superintendents and supporting new superintendents in their first few years in the role. We believe Holdsworth is uniquely positioned to make those key investments with the help of our funding partners.”
Holdsworth is tremendously grateful to the Powell Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, H-E-B and the William Knox Holt Foundation for their support of the Center’s new superintendent pipeline efforts.
In the new program, aspiring superintendents will attend learning sessions at Holdsworth’s Campus on Lake Austin, a retreat-like setting that allows leaders to step back and see their challenges and opportunities more clearly. They will assess their readiness for the superintendency and set goals to master skills where they need more practice.
Each leader will be assigned a coach from among the Center’s cadre of superintendents-in-residence, including Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Dr. Art Cavazos, Dr. Thomas Randle and Sara Bonser.
Program learning will focus on communication, board relations and other skills that have taken on greater importance in recent years. By design, leaders will apply what they’re learning on the job, share the results with their coach and get advice on how they can hone their approach and reach mastery.
Once leaders have mastered all the skills and are ready to apply for jobs, Holdsworth will continue to support them through the application and interview process.
“I believe leaders will come out of this program saying, ‘Holdsworth helped make the superintendency real and gave me a chance to practice in a hands-on way. Now I can see myself doing the job,” Cavazos said. “That’s what is needed right now.”