Al Conley

Al Conley

Burks Elementary Principal Al Conley is among the 62 school leaders from across Texas selected as the 2020 cohort of educators to attend summer institutes at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education sponsored by the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to strengthen public education in Texas.

Conley is eligible to attend the Improving Schools: Art of Leadership institute or the Leadership: An Evolving Vision institute. After participating in the program, the principals join the Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Leadership Collaborative which connects alumni in regional groups who visit each other’s campuses, conduct instructional rounds, share best practices, and problem-solve on current issues in education. Through these groups, principals are empowered to work together to create change at the campus and district levels.

“I am honored to have been selected for this opportunity to grow in my leadership and to bring that back to share with my MISD family,” Conley said.

The members of the cohort represent 43 school districts and two charter schools. They join the nearly 1,200 educators sponsored by the Foundation to attend training at Harvard through theRaising School Leaders program, an initiative designed to develop stronger school leaders who will enhance the quality of education across Texas. 

“Public school leaders are agents of change on their campuses,” said Cody Huie, Vice President of Programs at the Raise Your Hand Texas 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.”

In years past, the cohort traveled to Harvard during the summer to participate in one of the week-long institutes. However due to COVID-19, this year’s cohort is invited to participate in an optional online course facilitated by Harvard this summer. The cohort will also meet virtually each month to discuss their problem of practice, attend the 2021 Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Symposium, and then head to Harvard next summer to participate in their selected institute.

“We know that public schools will be at the center of our state’s, and nation’s, rebuilding from the pandemic caused by COVID-19, which makes this year’s Harvard cohort a unique experience as these educators will grow and learn together as they lead us all on a path of rebuilding,” said Huie.

For every participant in the Harvard Institutes, the Foundation covers all expenses for the attendees including tuition, travel, and hotel – investing on average about $9,200 per attendee, for a total of about $1 million in sponsorships for 2019, and more than $9 million since the program’s inception.

During the summer Harvard Institutes, attendees will participate in weeklong workshops on leadership development, led by Harvard faculty and other national and international experts. 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.

Following the Harvard Institutes, attendees remain a part of the program’s statewide network of school leaders.

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