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LISD admins finish leadership program

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Special to the LPR

At The Holdsworth Center’s new campus on Lake Austin, Lockhart Independent School District (LISD) district leaders graduated from the institute’s world-class District Leadership Program. 
Superintendent Mark Estrada, Deputy Superintendent Kimberly Brents, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Stephaine Camarillo, Director of Special Services Melissa Corona, Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Technology Adam Galvan, and Executive Director of Communication and Community Services Christina Courson completed the two-year intensive leadership training to lead meaningful change and to identify and develop effective leaders to benefit LISD students and staff. 
In 2019, Lockhart Independent School District was chosen as one of six school districts selected for a 5-year leadership program and $6 million investment by The Holdsworth Center, the leadership institute for Texas public schools founded by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt. Other districts in the cohort included Aldine ISD, Harlingen Consolidated ISD, Judson ISD, Mesquite ISD, and Spring ISD. LISD is the smallest of a total of 19 Texas school districts selected by The Holdsworth Center since the launch of its institute.
“This experience has transformed each of us as individual leaders, challenging us to reflect on our unique opportunities to grow based on feedback from the people we serve, while also equipping us with the tools and resources to facilitate that growth,” said Superintendent Estrada. “It was critical to focus on personal leadership before leading comprehensive change in the school district.”
The program provided onsite learning for participants to study examples of education leadership in Singapore and Toronto, Canada, and participants studied H-E-B’s organizational leadership in San Antonio. The Holdsworth Center also invited internationally renowned thought leaders to facilitate the learning for program participants.
“When we looked at our district needs, we realized we did not have a clear definition of what a leader in Lockhart ISD should look like, nor did we have a system to identify and develop high-potential leaders to expand our capacity and deepen our leadership bench,” added Superintendent Estrada. “We also realized, based upon staff feedback, that we needed to move more towards a people-focused culture to create a feeling of connectedness and belonging. We had a lot of work to do.” 
The district engaged district staff to learn what they felt a leader in LISD should look like and worked to identify the common values shared across the district. The “Lockhart Leading” leadership definition comprises three themes: having a LockHeart for People, UnLocking Potential of self and others, and being Locked on Excellence. It serves as the standard of measurement for every LISD leader as well as the roadmap for success for every aspiring leader in the leadership pipeline. 
As LISD leaders launched the leadership definition districtwide this past school year, they also worked to identify and develop high-potential leaders within the district. Two years ago, the district had not prepared its internal leaders well enough to have a ready pool of candidates for principal positions. This year, when the district posted the position of principal for Navarro Elementary School, LISD only opened the opportunity to internal candidates and selected Lockhart Junior High School Assistant Principal Adam Miller from a competitive pool of high-potential leaders. 
Additionally, surveys conducted by The Holdsworth Center in 2021 revealed the district had indeed become a people-focused culture whilst able to maintain the competitive market culture so ingrained in the school district’s DNA, which fuels its 1.5 performance for student growth.
In 2020, LISD initiated the second phase with Bluebonnet Elementary School and Lockhart Junior High School selected as the first cohort of campus leadership program (CLP) participants. This year, LISD announced the selection of Plum Creek Elementary, Clear Fork Elementary, and Lockhart High School as the second cohort of the CLP, launching the third phase of the district’s leadership development. 
The CLP program is part of the school district’s partnership with The Holdsworth Center to build a pipeline of effective leaders across the school district to ensure students grow and thrive. Each of the campuses will work to identify a unique problem of practice at their school and apply what they learn through leadership development to effectively address it. 
“We are proud of how far we have come as leaders and as a district, and we are honored to be Holdsworth Center graduates and alumni,” Estrada said. “Still, the important work of growing effective leaders and ensuring excellent and equitable outcomes for students continues. We will keep our eyes on what is important in the long term rather than what is urgent in the moment, anchored by our leadership definition and committed to building a legacy of excellence.”

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