Garland ISD classroom

The Holdsworth center plans to improve students' academic experiences through changes in leadership. 

Brian Gilson with the Holdsworth Center updated the Garland ISD Board of Trustees on the five-year plan to change learning practices for the district.

The Holdsworth Center was founded four years ago by HEB CEO Charlie Butt. Butt named the center after his mother, Mary Holdsworth, who was a teacher.

The Holdsworth Center focuses on improving students’ academic experiences through making changes in academic leadership. The center implements a five-year plan where the district and the center identify problems of practice and make necessary adjustments by working with district administration and school principals. The center focuses on team building rather than creating individual “superheroes” to lead the schools. Another key focus is building partnerships among school districts.

“I am extremely excited about this partnership, and I can’t wait to see the transformation,” Trustee Linda Griffin said.

The center aims to impact all Texas students as it continues to grow. While it has not completed its five-year plan with its first schools, Gilson said the districts he has worked with have seen improvements in their students’ learning.

Gilson said student performance will improve when there are strong leaders to promote systemic change.

The Holdsworth Center plans to engage with at least 50% of the Garland ISD campuses over the five-year plan. While engaging with school staff, the center plans to take a 70/20/10 approach where 10% of the learning will be done in professional learning seminars, 20% of the learning will be done through peer assistance and 70% of the learning will be on the job experience.

Garland ISD was chosen by the Holdsworth Center in April out of a pool of 43 applicants. The partnership includes a $6 million investment including costs of embedding Holdsworth District Support Team staff at Garland ISD’s central office to help design, implement and sustain the district’s leadership development systems, delivering two-year district and campus leadership programs for multiple groups of central office and campus leadership teams and providing robust tools to measure district-wide culture and staff engagement in addition to better understanding students’ social and emotional learning.

“This is not something that should be done in isolation,” Superintendent Ricardo López said. “We want as many people to experience this as possible.”

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