Victoria Independent School District

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The Holdsworth Center, an educational leadership institute, selects Victoria ISD for five-year partnership

Victoria ISD is one of six districts chosen to partner with The Holdsworth Center, a nonprofit organization founded by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt.

The five-year, $6 million strategic partnership helps districts grow their own bench of strong, skilled leaders who create conditions in which teachers thrive and all students get what they need to succeed.

“It is our humble honor to join this partnership opportunity,” said Dr. Quintin Shepherd, VISD Superintendent. “This leadership development program mirrors our passion to foster a culture of continuous improvement in everything we do. There are great things on our horizon at VISD!”

The selection marks the latest expansion of The Holdsworth Partnership that is now serving 19 school districts in Texas. By 2028, the partnership is expected to reach more than 4,500 educators, including teacher leaders, assistant principals, principals and central office administrators.

“COVID has tested every structure in public education and fundamentally, our culture,” said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, superintendent of Arlington ISD, one of the first districts accepted into the partnership in 2017. “What we learned through Holdsworth about how to communicate with transparency, to take input from staff and to value people in our district – it has paid dividends.”

Victoria ISD has 13,800 students on 23 campuses and 2,100 faculty and staff. Click here for more detailed data on each district.
The six districts were chosen from a pool of 43 applicants, a 130 % increase from the last application period in 2019. The other five districts are Laredo ISD, East Central ISD in San Antonio and Cedar Hill, Garland and Dallas ISDs in North Texas. Click here to learn more about eligibility and the selection process.

“Our ability as a state to recover from the impact of a global pandemic will depend on the skillful leadership of teachers, principals and district leaders serving Texas' 5.5 million students,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. "We recognize the urgency of this moment and are honored to play a role."

With the opening of Campus on Lake Austin this summer – a permanent home for its staff and programs – Holdsworth hopes to expand program offerings and host events that will reach even more educators.

All programming and support, valued at $6 million per district over five years, is covered at no cost through the generosity of Charles Butt, Chairman of H-E-B, and other philanthropic supporters.

That figure includes the cost of:
  • Embedding Holdsworth District Support Team staff in each district for five years to help central office leaders design, implement and sustain their own leadership development systems
  • Delivering two-year District and Campus Leadership Programs for multiple groups of central office and campus leadership teams
  • Providing districts with robust tools to measure district-wide culture and staff engagement and better understand students’ social-emotional learning.
Click here to learn more about each element and timeline of the 5-year partnership.

“We don’t believe there are any quick fixes in education. Investing deeply in the skill and capacity of the people working in our schools is the only way we will see true transformation,” Whorton said. “This five-year partnership will help leaders expand their view of what’s possible for their district, create a vision for change and drive the innovations needed to deliver on the promise of excellence and equity for all students.”

The choice to focus on leadership is strategic. Decades of research shows that effective principals can significantly impact student outcomes by adding around three more months of learning in math and reading during a single school year. Because principals influence the working conditions and skill level of every teacher in the building, their impact is outsized.

Over the five-year partnership, districts work towards ensuring every school is served by an excellent principal with a goal of building a strong bench of candidates for each principal vacancy.

Spotting and growing outstanding leaders from the classroom to the superintendent’s office is complex work that requires:
  • Communicating a shared vision of what great leadership should look like
  • Creating a positive, caring learning environment for students and staff
  • Building new systems and structures to ensure aspiring leaders are being identified early and given opportunities to truly prepare for the next step in their career
Holdsworth leaders have shown incredible growth as individuals and achieved big gains at the system and school level. Around 96 percent of leaders say they developed new beneficial behaviors and mindsets as a result of Holdsworth; 97 percent agree that Holdsworth has been influential in increasing their focus on achieving excellent and equitable outcomes for students. Click here for more impact stories and data.
The Holdsworth Center
Driven by the belief that great leaders can push student achievement levels to new heights, The Holdsworth Center partners with Texas public school districts to help educators become experts at leadership, then grow stronger leaders within their own systems. Founded in 2017 by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt, the Austin-based nonprofit works with partner districts for five years and makes a deep investment in leaders at both the district and campus levels. For more information, visit Source: The Holdsworth Center
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