30 school leaders selected for Harvard Institute

A banner with the Raising School Leaders and Harvard Graduate School of Education logos

Cohort represents 28 traditional and charter school districts from across Texas

AUSTIN, TX (May 30, 2024) – The Charles Butt Foundation, a non-profit pursuing a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships, announced today it will sponsor 30 educators from traditional and charter school districts across Texas to attend a weeklong summer institute at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

With this new cohort, the Charles Butt Foundation will have supported more than 1,600 educators to attend 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. The Charles Butt Foundation covers expenses for the attendees including tuition, travel, hotel, and other discretionary costs for a total investment of more than $10 million since the program’s inception.

The Raising School Leaders 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. Attendees will participate in a weeklong leadership institute development led by Harvard faculty and other national and international experts. Following the Harvard institute, attendees remain a part of the program’s statewide network of school leaders, work together to create change at the campus and district levels, and receive continuous support and professional development.

“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 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.”

For this year’s Raising School Leaders cohort, preference was given to school leaders from schools and districts that are considered rural or had a district student enrollment of less than 5,500. “As demographics shift in Texas, we recognize that the needs of schools in rural and smaller districts are unique. Creating a space for school leaders in rural and smaller districts to find commonalities, problem solve, and build a network of support is an important component of this year’s Raising School Leaders program,” added Miller.

Below is a list of all cohort members from across Texas:

Alba-Golden ISD

Brittany Hall, Alba-Golden Secondary School

Ballinger ISD

Leslie Griffis, Ballinger High School

Bridge City ISD

Grady Welborn, Bridge City Middle School

Brownsboro ISD

Melissa Barrett, Chandler Intermediate School

Caddo Mills ISD

Michelle Colwell, Kathryn Griffis Elementary School

Carthage ISD

Justin Smith, Carthage High School

Chapel Hill ISD

Bethany Moody, W L Kissam Intermediate School

Coldspring Oakhurst CISD

Shalonda Washington, James Street Elementary School

Como-Pickton CISD

Shonda Rutledge, Como-Pickton Elementary School

Cotulla ISD

Daniel Martinez, Newman Middle School

Crandall ISD

Paige Cherry, Noble Reed Elementary School

Fabens ISD

Daniel Aguayo, Fabens High School

Jacksboro ISD

Jackie Hamilton, Jacksboro Middle School

Jim Ned CISD

Alana McClure, Buffalo Gap Elementary School

Lake Dallas ISD

Kendrick Johnson, Lake Dallas Middle School

Natalia ISD

Bridget Ayala, Natalia Elementary School

Nixon-Smiley CISD

Maria Jimenez, Nixon-Smiley High School

Post ISD

Kaitlin Jeffrey, Post Middle School

Robinson ISD

Travis Braugh, Robinson Junior High School

Royse City ISD

Brittany Lancaster, Miss May Vernon Elementary School

San Diego ISD

Amanda Morgan, Collins-Parr Elementary School

San Elizario ISD

Richard Salcido, Ann M. Garcia-Enriquez Middle School

Schleicher County ISD

Kristin Sissom, Eldorado Elementary School

Seagraves ISD

Shelley Mann, Seagraves Elementary School

Texas Leadership Charter Academy

Sarah Hernandez, TLCA San Angelo High School

Thorndale ISD

Shannon Morrison, Thorndale Elementary School

Uvalde CISD

Sandra Gonzalez, Batesville School

Hector Lopez, Crossroads Academy High School

Patricia Merlos, Morales Junior High School

Wellington ISD

Jermaine Cantu, Wellington High School

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Tessa Benavides-Cooper



The Charles Butt Foundation is pursuing a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships. The Foundation is working toward a future in which all Texas children and families live in vibrant communities supported by a world-class education system. To learn more, visit CharlesButtFdn.org

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