Sanchez-Ochoa Elementary School Principal Rosalba Martinez was among the 85 school leaders from across Texas selected to attend the summer institute at the Principals’ Center (PC) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education sponsored by the Charles Butt Foundation, a non-profit pursuing a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships.
The Harvard Institute course was conducted in Boston, Massachusetts at Harvard University. The PC provides professional education to leaders around the world. Through professional development programs and an extensive learning community, PC assists principals in leading change to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education.
The workshops focused on leadership development, coaching, or school turnaround led by Harvard faculty and other national and international experts. The trainings provided Martinez with additional tools to continue the work of a campus principal. Topics ranged from current educational trends such as building capacity for family engagements, being brave in a time of challenging work, designing powerful learning and cultural leadership for transforming schools.
Each program is designed to inspire, challenge, and empower school leaders to bring lasting impact to their campuses and communities, the entire state of Texas, and beyond. “The most rewarding was the end of the day group discussions. The same group of school leaders gathered at the end of the day and shared perspectives about the day’s topics. We shared our successes and our struggles at our campuses too,” Martinez said. “Each of the group members offered a unique and fresh perspective of hot topics in our campuses and across the world. We found that despite the geographic distances, schools struggle with equity, campus culture, academics and challenges in finding personnel for key areas.”
The Charles Butt Foundation funds the training at Harvard through the Raising School Leaders program, an initiative designed to develop stronger school leaders who will enhance the quality of education across Texas. Since the program’s inception, the Charles Butt Foundation covers all expenses for the attendees including tuition, travel, hotel, and other discretionary costs for a total investment of more than $10 million.
“Great teachers, along with strong school and district leaders, represent the most significant influencers of academic achievement and supportive culture,” said Tim Miller, Director of Leadership Development at the Charles Butt Foundation. “Our alumni often report that their Harvard experience is the best professional development they have ever experienced and that they return to their campuses energized, inspired, and empowered to make meaningful change that benefits all students.”
Following the Harvard Institutes, attendees remain a part of the program’s statewide network of school leaders and are empowered to work together to create change at the campus and district levels. Alumni are sponsored to attend the organization’s annual leadership symposium and receive continuous support and professional development.
“This has been a highlight of my educational journey. My colleagues, friends and family were excited for me too! I enjoyed the camaraderie of the 2020 and 2022 Raise Your Hand Cohorts,” Martinez added. “The week in Boston was a unique experience. I basked in the learning, experiences, friendships and food! The best part of all was the learning! I have implemented ideas and frameworks for transforming schools. I look forward to this school year and all the amazing things to come. Attending Harvard was truly a blessing.”