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New $100 Million Initiative to Boost Leadership in Texas Public Schools

UPDATED

The chairman and CEO of H-E-B, a Texas-based grocery chain, is sinking more than $100 million into the launch of a new institute focused on improving school leadership in Texas' public schools.

The Holdsworth Center for Excellence in Education Leadership's first program will start with six school districts in June. The initial group will be selected from a pool of 15 to 20 school districts, which will be invited to apply to be part of the program.  The center is looking for applications from districts that already demonstrate a commitment to growing talent and a "strong alignment of vision" among the superintendent, cabinet, and school board. 

All of the state's districts will be able to apply in the future.

In their work with the Holdsworth Center's experts, school leaders in the program—principals, superintendents, and other school administrators—will focus on areas such as change management, school board relations, and best practices in talent management, the center said this week in a news release. 

The Austin American-Statesman reports that there will be no cost to the sCharles Butt at H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.jpgchool leaders attending the program. It will be split in three parts: one that will facilitate collaborative work by the superintendent and his or her leadership team; another for the principal and his or her leadership team, and a third for schools' support staff. 

"The Holdsworth Center is about helping people be extraordinary in the job they are in today," Charles Butt, H-E-B's chairman and CEO, said in the statement. "In addition, we want them to re-invent the way future leaders are selected, developed, and supported within their districts so that when a position opens up, they have a tremendous bench from which to select the next super star."

The center is named after Butt's mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, an educator and philanthropist who championed social justice.

Ruth Simmons, the former president of Smith College and Brown University, will lead the 17-member board of directors. The board is made up of high-profile leaders from education, business, and elsewhere, including Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary and chancellor of the College of William & Mary; Elisa Villanueva Beard, the CEO of Teach for America; Ellen Moir, the founder and CEO of the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Michael J. Sorrell, the president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas.

The center grew out of a convening nearly two years ago to examine innovative approaches to developing strong school leaders. The group behind the center also travelled overseas, including to Singapore, in search of proven models that led to positive changes in schools, according to the press release. 

Image source: Charles Butt, the chairman and CEO of Texas-based H-E-B. Photos courtesy The Holdsworth Center for Excellence in Education Leadership.

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