We’re proud to announce that 14 superintendents from across Texas who are new to their roles have joined Holdsworth’s Superintendent Leadership Program, an 18-month experience designed to grow and support superintendents as they navigate unprecedented challenges at a critical point in their career.
The group is now among 26 total superintendents participating in the program; the first cohort began in September 2021.
The program gives newer superintendents the opportunity to work with an experienced mentor, learn from their peers and be challenged by leadership experts who push their thinking. Superintendents attend learning sessions at the Campus on Lake Austin, digging into essential leadership skills and content that addresses the unique issues and opportunities of the superintendent role.
They also receive executive coaching from Holdsworth Superintendents-in-Residence Dr. Thomas Randle and Dr. Art Cavazos, both recently retired superintendents who have earned the respect of their peers.
Diana Sayavedra, a member of the new cohort, has been serving as superintendent of El Paso ISD since January of this year. Feeling supported by mentors and peers when you’re new to a high-stakes role is critically important, she said.
“Holdsworth gives us a professional forum where we can problem-solve and interact with others who are living the same experience,” Sayavedra said. “The circumstances might be slightly different, but the challenges are very much the same.”
At Holdsworth, Sayavedra knows she will be in an environment created just for educators where she can fully engage in the learning.
“I feel honored to be part of the group. I’m looking forward to learning from experts and other superintendents in my cohort, and interacting with my coach, Dr. Cavazos. I know he will be able to ask me critical questions and provide good feedback, which you need as you continue to learn and grow as a leader.”
The job of a school superintendent has risen in complexity alongside the historic challenges facing public education, a trend that’s begun pushing more leaders toward the exit. Nationally, about 25 percent of superintendents stepped down in the past year compared to an average turnover rate of 14 to 16 percent, according to the American Association of School Administrators.
While creating the right conditions for principals and teachers to help students thrive, superintendents must also build strong relationships with board members, families and other community members.
“The diverse skills needed to be an effective superintendent are comparable to a Fortune 500 CEO, but the job doesn’t come with the same opportunities to study the tenets of great leadership or work with an experienced coach,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. “We are proud to support Texas superintendents with high-quality programming and connections that help them stay in the seat longer and thrive while they are leading.”
Holdsworth covers the cost of programming thanks to the generosity of its founder and other philanthropic supporters.
“I wouldn’t be the superintendent I am without Holdsworth’s investment,” said Magda Hernandez, superintendent of Irving ISD and a participant in the first cohort of the Superintendent Leadership Program. “We take what we learn at Holdsworth and put it into practice every day. Ultimately, it affects the kids we serve.”