Irving ISD will strengthen bench of principals & support superintendent through new leadership programs offered by The Holdsworth Center

Irving ISD will partner with The Holdsworth Center, an Austin-based nonprofit, to strengthen its bench of great aspiring principals and support the superintendent’s leadership through two new, 18-month programs – the Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative and the Superintendent Leadership Program.

Irving is among the first 14 districts across the state invited to take part in the Leadership Collaborative, which is designed to help district leaders create systems that ensure a strong pool of aspiring principals who are truly ready to step into the role when a position arises. As demands on schools evolve and heighten, principals must be more prepared to navigate ambiguity and respond to challenges with creativity.

Each year, Irving ISD needs approximately six new principals and finding the right person can make a big difference for students and families. Next to a child’s teacher, a principal has the most impact on their learning, according to recent research.

“Because principals influence the working conditions and skill level of every teacher in the building, they have a huge – and often unseen ­– impact on students in the classroom,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. “Irving ISD recognizes this and is committed to ensuring its students benefit from outstanding leadership.”

Over the 18-month program, a team of three – the superintendent and two district leaders – will attend learning sessions at The Holdsworth Center’s Campus on Lake Austin.

They will learn best practices from organizations inside and outside of education that have built high-performing talent management systems, then work to define what great leadership looks like in Irving ISD. District leaders will then use this definition to design systems and structures to sustain the district’s school leadership pipeline.

In addition to the Leadership Collaborative, Superintendent Magda Hernandez will be part of the 18-month Superintendent Leadership Program, which is designed to support superintendents as they navigate unprecedented challenges at a critical point in their career – either in the first five years of their superintendency or new to a large district.

Superintendents in the cohort will attend learning sessions at the Campus on Lake Austin to dig into not only essential leadership skills, but content that addresses the unique challenges and opportunities of the superintendent role. They will also receive executive coaching from Holdsworth Superintendents-in-Residence, Dr. Art Cavazos, both recently retired superintendents who have earned the respect of their peers.

For these inaugural programs, The Holdsworth Center will cover the costs of programming, thanks to the generosity of its founder and other philanthropic supporters. Founded by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt in 2017, the center’s mission is to improve the quality of public education by supporting and developing educational leaders. The Center’s other programs include the 5-year Holdsworth Partnership, which helps districts grow more outstanding leaders at all levels of the organization, and an 18-month Superintendent Leadership Program to support superintendents who are either new to the role or new to a large district.

The 14 districts participating in the Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative are Corpus Christi ISD and Mission and Los Fresnos CISDs in South Texas; Conroe, Tomball, Pasadena and La Porte ISDs in Southeast Texas; Eanes, Temple, Waco and College Station ISDs and San Marcos CISD in Central Texas; and Irving and Plano ISDs in North Texas.

The Holdsworth Center

Driven by the belief that great leaders can push student achievement levels to new heights, The Holdsworth Center partners with Texas public school districts to help educators become experts at leadership, then grow stronger leaders within their own systems. Founded in 2017 by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt, the Austin-based nonprofit works with partner districts for five years and makes a deep investment in leaders at both the district and campus levels. For more information, visit