Video: Six new school districts selected to partner with Holdsworth

A photo of district leaders to react to Holdsworth announcement.

The Holdsworth Center today announced that six new school districts will be joining the center’s 5-year partnership focused on building strong leaders at all levels in Texas public schools.

The six districts are Mesquite ISD (Dallas-Fort Worth), Aldine ISD and Spring ISD (Houston area), Harlingen CISD (Rio Grande Valley), Judson ISD (San Antonio) and Lockhart ISD (Central Texas).

Holdsworth Center President Lindsay Whorton, along with Managing Director of District Support Katie Jaron, surprised districts with the news via a video conference. Leaders thought they were answering one more question as part of an intense, 8-month selection process. Instead, they learned they had been selected.

When Judson ISD Superintendent Jeannette Ball and Assistant Superintendent for Career Readiness Nellie Cantu heard the news, they jumped out of their seats and shared a hug.

“This made our week!” Nellie said. “We have a great team and we want to get better.”

Like many of the leaders, she had come prepared to answer additional questions. “We even had our data sheets,” she told Lindsay and Katie. “We didn’t know what else you were going to ask us.”

A video screenshot of Judson ISD Superintendent Jeannette Ball and Assistant Superintendent for Career Readiness Nellie Cantu reacting to the announcement.

Judson ISD Superintendent Jeannette Ball and Assistant Superintendent for Career Readiness Nellie Cantu react to the announcement.

Aldine ISD Superintendent LaTonya Goffney transformed from very serious when the call began to smiling, wiping her eyes and hugging Deputy Superintendent Selina Chappas after she heard the news.

“This means so much to us, I am serious. We are going to be all in,” LaTonya said.

Scroll to the end of this blog to watch a video of all the leaders’ reactions.

The Holdsworth family grows

With the announcement of these six districts, the Holdsworth Partnership now extends to two cohorts comprising 13 public school districts. By the end of the five-year partnership, more than 1,400 educational leaders across 277 schools in Texas will have been impacted.

Holdsworth selected the six districts based upon willingness and ability to change, as well as level of commitment to growing and developing a pipeline of leaders. To ensure a diverse cohort, staff also considered each district’s student population and geographic location.

A graphic representation of Holdsworth partner districts.

While the partnership is currently designed to serve large and mid-size districts, working with a smaller district like Lockhart ISD, which only has 6,000 students, will allow Holdsworth staff to study the needs of small, rural districts to better serve them in the future.

After reviewing written applications last fall, staff chose 14 finalists and conducted in-depth site visits earlier this year. The other eight district finalists were: Abilene ISD, Brazosport ISD (Gulf Coast), Brownsville ISD, Midland ISD, North East ISD (San Antonio), San Angelo ISD, San Antonio ISD and Waco ISD.

The visits left the Holdsworth team inspired and optimistic about the excellent work being done in public schools across Texas ­– and made it very difficult to choose only six.

“We are grateful to every district who applied for the partnership and hope they continue to make great leadership a priority,” said Holdsworth President Lindsay Whorton. “Looking to the future, we could not be more excited to welcome a new group of dynamic leaders into the Holdsworth family.”

What’s next

This summer, the superintendent and a team of five central office leaders from each district will embark on the two-year District Leadership Program, a learning journey that includes sessions with some of the nation’s top leadership experts and site visits to study high-performing organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

Over the five-year partnership, District Leaders will work together to build and implement robust talent management systems with help from embedded Holdsworth staff, who provide support tailored to the unique needs of each district.

In the second year, principal supervisors, principals, assistant principals and teachers begin the 2-year Campus Leadership Program, a learning journey similar to District Leaders. Each campus team works on a significant challenge tied to school culture and student outcomes. Rolled out in phases, the program aims to serve 50 percent of campuses in each partner district.

Apart from in-state transportation costs, all programming and support are covered by The Holdsworth Center. In 2020, learning sessions will move to The Holdsworth Center’s new campus on the shores of Lake Austin, a peaceful setting where educators can focus on learning and reflection.

For more information, read our full press release and FAQs.