Garland ISD selected for five-year Holdsworth Center partnership to grow outstanding leaders

Garland ISD is proud to be one of six districts chosen for The Holdsworth Center Partnership, a five-year journey that will help us grow more strong, inspiring leaders to help teachers thrive and students succeed.

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

Garland ISD was chosen from a pool of 43 applicants after a detailed process that included a written application and a series of remote interviews with central office leaders, board members and principals. Holdsworth team members were looking for districts who were ready, willing and able to drive major changes that would result in excellent and equitable outcomes for all students. 

“Garland ISD’s leaders have an ambitious vision for students and a commitment to work in partnership with their community. We are excited to collaborate with this group of exceptionally thoughtful leaders as they pursue equity and excellence for all students,” said Pauline Dow, Holdsworth’s vice president.

Based in Austin, The Holdsworth Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 by Charles Butt, one of the state’s biggest champions for public education.

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 5-year partnership, Garland ISD will work toward ensuring every school is served by excellent principals and a strong bench of candidates are ready to lead and fill vacancies.

“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." 

 The $6 million investment in Garland ISD includes the cost of:

  • Embedding Holdsworth District Support Team staff at Garland ISD’s central office for five years to help design, implement and sustain our own leadership development systems.
  • Delivering two-year District and Campus Leadership Programs for multiple groups of central office and campus leadership teams.
  • Providing us with robust tools to measure district-wide culture and staff engagement and better understand students’ social-emotional learning. 

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

“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 5-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 Holdsworth Partnership is now serving 19 school districts and is expected to reach more than 4,500 educators including teacher leaders, assistant principals, principals and central office administrators by 2028.

All programs will take place at the Campus on Lake Austin, a first-of-its-kind facility for education leaders to come learn, reflect, collaborate and grow. 

Since its founding in 2017, 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.