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February 2009
The Equitable & Just Educational Leader:
From Consciousness to Practice

Paul GorskiIn today's society, diversity and multicultural education are often shaped to be comfortable and easily digestible. While people need some level of comfort in order to grow, Multicultural Pavillion creator and EdChange founder Paul Gorski believes that true change can only happen when people allow themselves to be vulnerable to difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, dialogue. This is the first step toward greater change in our schools and communities.

On Friday, Feb. 6, Gorski will join Regional Principal Leadership Academy cohort members at Houston A+ Challenge for an intimate conversation covering practical strategies to:

  • Move beyond celebrating diversity toward frank conversations about serious, equity-related issues
  • Address achievement gaps, bullying, school culture & classroom climate from an equity mindset
  • Ensure school policies and practices don’t unintentionally contribute to existing inequity

School board members, superintendents and senior staff from partnering school districts have been invited to attend a private dinner with Gorski on the Thursday evening prior to the cohort workshop. This series is part of Houston A+ Challenge's efforts to expose both aspiring principals and current local district leaders to innovative ideas from national thought leaders.

Up next: Dr. Pedro Noguera on Feb. 27

Note: The Thursday afternoon lecture with Paul Gorski originally scheduled for Feb. 5 at the University of Houston Hilton has been cancelled.

RPLA Intern Spotlight

Alecia BellAlecia Bell is currently a principal intern under the guidance of Joseph Addison at Hartman Middle School in Houston ISD.  As Bell's mentor principal, Addison is providing a wealth of opportunities for Bell to grow and develop her leadership skills and to become an active voice on the school's leadership team. Both mentor principal and consulting coach report that Bell possesses the potential, knowledge and skills that are necessary to be an effective leader.

Bell's passion and creativity truly exuded while visiting her campus.  She demonstrated natural leadership abilities and a strong presence of confidence on the campus.  She was submerged in the culture of the organization and was familiar with the data being used on the campus by different groups to influence student achievement. Alecia is a strong team player, mediator, and problem solver with an honest voice within the cohort structure.

Deborah MitchellDeborah Mitchell comes to the RPLA cohort with more than 18 years of experience as an educator. She currently serves as an intern under the leadership of principal Benjamin Ibarra at Grantham Academy in Aldine ISD.  This year is proving to be very successful for Mitchell; her mentor principal reports that she is an asset to the campus, especially with parental involvement and staff development. Mitchell is being provided a wealth of opportunities to demonstrate her talents and skills while gaining a positive learning experience from her mentor principal.

During the cohort's visit to Grantham Academy, Mitchell demonstrated a wealth of knowledge about the school's current data.  Not only did she have data, but she explained how it was being used to impact decision-making and spoke very candidly to the cohort about the changes being made to improve student achievement according to the data. Mitchell exhibits a strong grasp of campus data and is obviously a meaningful member of the Grantham team. In the RPLA cohort, Mitchell's peers report that her positive voice and presence are important and influential.

Lessons on Leadership: Using Data to Guide Change Efforts

Education researcher Shirley D. McCune notes that providing people with data before asking for their opinions and ideas leads to different responses and outcomes. Possession of such information frequently requires individuals to reexamine their assumptions. As a change agent leader, one must first reflect on the data that is collected and then use the data to form effective decisions.

One of the basic concepts of effective change leadership is data-based decision making. It helps educators pinpoint problems and consider alternative solutions. In addition to helping you set the course, data reveals how your change initiative is progressing and what you may need to do differently to stay on target.

One of the essential components of change management is setting up information systems for decision making. Data is collected and analyzed prior to and after decision making. This enables all stakeholders to have the same information base. Access to such a database needs to exist at the organizational level as well as at the unit or departmental level, because different decisions are made at different levels.

As an inspiring leader, consider your uses for data:

  • How will you model the use of data for decision making in change initiatives that your campus might undertake?
  • How will you use data to base your decisions and then monitor to check the results of your actions?
  • How will you decide what data will best meet the needs for the plan of action that you are trying to carry out?
Special Invitation

Invite a Teacher to Join A+ for Summer Externship 2009
Summer may be months away, but now is the time for teachers to apply for a weeklong job shadowing experience through Houston A+ Challenge's 7th Annual Teacher Externship Program, June 8-12, 2009.

Up to 300 spots are open for teachers who want to spend a week in a business related to their field of study. After Externship Week, teachers develop lesson plans based on their experiences and receive a $800 to $1200 stipend.

Help Houston A+ Challenge spread the word; teachers can apply today as an individual or as a school team, or learn more.

Businesses interested in sponsoring a teacher or teachers can email Alejandro Morúa or click here to learn more.

Cohort Calendar

February 6
"The Equitable and Just Educational Leader" with Paul Gorski

February 18 – 20
Achieving the Dream Conference, San Francisco

February 27
"Equitable Education & Instructional Leadership" with Pedro Noguera

More Events

February 5
Podcast with Dr. Pedro Noguera
'How Urban Schools Work Beyond the Boundaries of Social and Economic Conditions'

February 5
Global Connections: Developing and Sustaining a Multi-lingual Work Force for the 21st Century
7 - 8:30 p.m.
St. Thomas University Jerabeck Center, Scanlan Room
4000 Mt. Vernon

February 17
State of the Schools Luncheon, Houston ISD
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Ave De Las Americas

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

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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