Alumni Stories: Investing in Leaders Pays Dividends

The Charles Butt Foundation fosters ongoing learning communities for current participants and alumni of our statewide programs. Our Alumni Stories series showcases short accounts from participants on the meaningful connections, mutual support, and collaborative learning they’ve gained through this network.

“Everything that I would have to say about Raise Your Hand Texas and the Charles Butt Foundation comes from a place of gratitude for the people that I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had as an educator,” says Dr. Tamara McWilliams.

McWilliams is the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Testing for Crockett County CCSD, a rural district located in Ozona, a small town of 3,200 in southwest Texas. McWilliams first connected with the Foundation in 2018 through the Raising Blended Learners initiative. McWilliams was the principal of Ozona High School at the time, and in learning about blended learning strategies determined “it was the right thing to do for kids.” 

Crockett County CCSD was invited to join the Raising Blended Learners for the final year of the first cohort of the grant initiative and began piloting blended learning in the 2018-19 school year. Much of the district’s initial pilot planning and teacher onboarding was supported through exposure and learning from existing Raising Blended Learners rural sites: Cisco ISD, Mineola ISD, and Tulia ISD. McWilliams lead her district in implementation and developed collaborative relationships with her fellow cohort of rural practitioners.

In the summer of 2018, McWilliams was selected to attend the Raising School Leaders Harvard Leadership program. While at the Leadership An Evolving Vision session, one of the Harvard faculty members connected McWilliams with EdWeek and the opportunity to write a principal advice column. In 2022, McWilliams completed her Doctorate degree at Texas Tech University. Her experience implementing blended learning strategies caught the attention of her doctoral professors and in spring 2023, McWilliams will join the Texas Tech faculty as an adjunct professor. She says this opportunity would never have been possible without the investment and support from the Foundation.

“Coming from a rural Title I district, I’m able to take back what I learn … there’s an army – that you can’t see, but that is here with me that also benefits from the contribution that Charles Butt makes to education.”

The impact of the Raising School Leaders and Raising Blended Learners programs extend far beyond individual campus or district leaders to reach whole communities. 

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