Walnut Springs Elementary Principal Melinda Gardner is among 62 school leaders from across Texas who have been selected as educators to attend summer institutes at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education sponsored by the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, a non-profit organization working to strengthen public education in Texas.
Gardner just completed her first year in Dripping Springs ISD following 14 years in various positions in Bastrop ISD, including principal at Lost Pines Elementary. She will be eligible to attend one of two institutes focused on leadership, then will join the Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Leadership Collaborative, which connects alumni in regional groups who visit each other’s campuses, conduct instructional rounds, share best practices, and problem-solve on current issues in education. The members of the cohort represent 43 school districts and two charter schools.
In years past, the group traveled to Harvard during the summer to participate in one of the week-long institutes. However due to COVID-19, this year they are invited to participate in an optional online course facilitated by Harvard this summer. The group also will meet virtually each month to discuss their problem of practice, attend the 2021 Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Symposium, and then head to Harvard next summer to participate in their selected institute.
For every participant in the Harvard Institutes, the foundation covers all expenses for the attendees including tuition, travel and hotel – investing on average about $9,200 per attendee, for a total of about $1 million in sponsorships for 2019, and more than $9 million since the program’s inception.