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November 2008
Introducing the RPLA Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of Leadership in Action, Houston A+ Challenge's new, bi-monthly publication for Regional Principal Leadership Academy (RPLA) Interns, Mentor Principals, District Liasons and other supporters.

In each issue, the RPLA faculty and staff will bring you news, tips and research related to education leadership, in addition to profiles of the emerging leaders in our program.

We welcome your feedback, and we hope you enjoy the newsletter!

RPLA Intern Spotlight

Our first featured cohort member, Waymond Ervin, definitely exemplifies that his leadership style is developing through his learning experiences in the Houston A+ Challenge Regional Principal Leadership Academy. Waymond spent the past two years as an administrator and academic coach at Marshall Middle School in Houston ISD, prior to becoming a member of the first RPLA cohort.  Waymond is currently a principal intern at Kashmere High School under the guidance of Dr. Charlotte Parker, who guides Waymond's learning by modeling, coaching and providing positive experiences for him daily.  Waymond holds the belief that he can make a difference in the lives of children by teaching, coaching, mentoring and leading.

On October 24, Waymond set the bar for all RPLA school visits, which will take place on Fridays throughout the school year.  In conjunction with Dr. Parker, the site visit was well-planned, organized and provided other cohort members with a great sense of the culture of the school.  Through the use of data, Waymond exemplified a strong awareness of student achievement and how the data impacts the school's performance as a whole. He also provided in great detail how the data would be used and gave examples of next steps the school would use for improving student achievement.  Waymond demonstrated confidence in leading the instructional activities for the cohort, and it was evident that he has immersed himself in the culture and organizational climate at the school.

Waymond believes that his participation in RPLA will allow him to "make a larger impact on student achievement and teacher development" by continuing his own development as a leader for the ever-changing 21st century schools.

Lessons on Leadership: Data-Based Action

Information is changing schools. Staff members are using tools and developing mindsets to analyze their data and results, and this practice alone is opening up possibilities for leadership at all levels. By disaggregating student results, staff members are beginning to focus attention on areas in need of improvement and to confront how the school works for all students.

Staff members are using the results from their data to set goals, implement new practices, and enhance outcomes. Through collaborative dialogue about their results, they are able to focus more on what needs to be done and engage in conversations that are grounded in facts and research versus opinions.  They are clearer about the outcomes they desire for team members and students, and they know how well they are doing in terms of reaching the outcomes.

As a leader, what you think, say, and do has profound effect on the quality of the collaboration, the culture of the school, and student achievement. Effective leaders build these collaborative structures to support their staff in working together and using the data to monitor where they are in relation to meeting goals for student learning. They share information widely, so that all staff has the opportunity to gain insights into how well they are meeting their goals, areas of improvement, and areas of celebration.

An individual without information cannot take responsibility; an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility.  – Jan Carlson


  • Does your campus value the use of data and information to drive improvements?
  • Does the staff have the information and data necessary to examine results and make continuous improvements?
  • What can you do to increase the exchange of information and the use of data to drive decisions and enhance practices?
Readings & Assignments

Online Grading is Changing Interactions Between School and Parents
The proliferation of online grading systems has transformed relations among teachers, parents and students and changed the rhythm of the school year, the Washington Post reports. Parents say the programs reconnect them to the academic lives of their children, a relationship that can decay as students move from elementary to middle and high school. Read more

Intern Assignments

  • Continuous: Action Research
  • November 14: 'Ahead of the Curve' Chapters 1, 5, 6 and 10
  • November 21: 'Holding Sacred Ground' Part 1 (1-3), Part 2 (4-5) and Part 3 (9, 11, 13)
Special Invitation

Nominate or Apply: Join Our Search for Talented School Leaders
Houston A+ Challenge and partners from Aldine ISD, Humble ISD, YES Prep Public Schools, Teach for America and Rice University are holding a series of public information sessions for those interested in applying for the second cohort of the Regional Principal Leadership Academy.

The co-hosted events will give potential applicants a chance to speak with Academy faculty, this year's Principal Interns, and some of the partnering districts and organizations that support the Academy. At the Nov. 20 event at the United Way, attendees will also get the chance to hear about Rice University's Education Entrepreneurship Programs.

Houston A+ Challenge is now accepting applications and nominations for the unique, three-year program for aspiring principals. A maximum of 30 aspiring principals will begin the program in June 2009. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CST, January 12, 2009.

Cohort Calendar

Nov. 13, Nov. 20, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4
Co-hosted information sessions for potential RPLA candidates
Various locations

December 5
"Leadership for Powerful and Purposeful Schools"
with Carl Glickman

December 7-10
National Staff Development Council Annual Conference in Washington D.C.

December 18-19
"High School Scheduling and Grading Practices"
with Robert Lynn Canady
RPLA Interns are invited to bring their school teams on Dec. 18.

More Events

November 11
"An Evening with Frederick M. Hess" sponsored by KIPP Houston and Rice University's Educational Entrepreneurship Program

November 11
"A National Middle School Summit: Enhancing the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning of Middle School Youth for Better" sponsored by Children at Risk and the Holthouse Foundation for Kids

You are receiving this e-mail from Houston A+ Challenge because of your involvement in the Regional Principal Leadership Academy.

To ensure that you continue to receive emails from us, add news@houstonaplus.org to your address book today.

Houston A+ Challenge

2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite B
Houston, TX 77098-4607


Contact Shundra Cannon,
RPLA Faculty Coach


or Rena Ramirez,
RPLA Faculty Coach


The Regional Principal Leadership Academy is made possible through grants from:

Houston Endowment

The Brown Foundation

JPMorgan Chase Foundation

Washington Mutual

The Wachovia Foundation

and other supporters