Harvard Leadership Program continues to impact alumna’s life

By Nadia De La Rosa, Raising School Leader Alumna

To honor and uplift diverse voices, the Charles Butt Foundation is inviting guest blog authors to share their perspective on public education throughout the year. The opinions and views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Charles Butt Foundation.

My name is Nadia De La Rosa. I am the proud principal at Tornillo Intermediate School, home of the Coyotes. Tornillo ISD is located approximately 35 miles southeast of El Paso. Our district serves less than 1,000 students and has four campuses. My campus serves grades 3-5 with approximately 160 students. 

I had the opportunity to apply for the Harvard Leadership Program through the Charles Butt Foundation. I attended the Leadership: An Evolving Vision program in the summer of 2022. It was an incredible experience. For the first time in my career as an administrator, I had the opportunity to focus on my growth and learning for an entire week. The week was strenuous and challenged us in a lot of different ways.

Family engagement was redefined and I got clarity on ways to improve what we were doing both as a school and as a leader. I was so excited about what I learned that I came back and shared with our district leadership. We all knew how important the relationships with our families are, we just needed to learn how to create and strengthen them. 

Oftentimes as principals, we remain neutral on certain issues like equity. This program taught me the importance of sharing our voice.

Nadia De La Rosa, Raising School Leaders Alumna

One of the sessions focused on valuing diversity and our responsibility as school leaders to our students and the communities we serve. I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Jennifer Cheatham and her work at Madison Metropolitan School District.

This course taught me that sometimes it is necessary to take a bold approach to do better for our students and families of color. After reading about her school district, it was inspiring to hear, first-hand, about the transformation that occurred under her leadership. It was an intensive process that required many adjustments as she moved the district forward. 

There was another session that was about goal setting and getting to the core of why we do not reach those goals. This session required us to be reflective, honest, and vulnerable. It showed me how to analyze my leadership practices and make changes to be a better principal.

Every day after class we would meet with our group led by Dr. Alan Cohen. We had the opportunity to share and reflect on what we had learned that day. It allowed us to connect some of the theory into practice in order to examine our own practices. 

My time at Harvard was incredible. One thing that was unexpected was the connections I made with the wonderful people I met that week.

Nadia De La Rosa, Raising School Leaders Alumna

I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I loved learning about education in Australia from Michael. Fawzie and her colleagues shared about their experiences in Lebanon. I also met other principals from El Paso and several from other parts of Texas that I became good friends with.

We bonded at Harvard and have remained in contact in order to continue to share ideas and learn from each other. We communicate almost daily and have visited some of each other’s schools. The Charles Butt Foundation has provided me with many more tools to support teachers, develop leaders around me, and empowered me to advocate for my school, my community and all students in Texas.  

Oftentimes, while working in a rural community, opportunities, like attending the Harvard Leadership Program, are very limited.  Our communities are often under-represented even though our students are the ones that need it the most. I am grateful that I was able to be part of this great learning experience and encourage all principals to apply for the Raising School Leaders program.

The application for the 2023 Raising School Leaders cohort is open through March 15, 2023