Leadership Training

District Leadership Fellows Year in Review 2023-2024

The 2023-2024 cohort of District Leadership Fellows has wrapped up their year-long program and it is time to take a look back at their year.  

22 school district leaders from Texas, Arkansas and Wisconsin were welcomed into the 2023-2024 cohort of the SMU District Leadership Fellows program.  The cohort kicked off with a book study in September, with the leaders reading and discussing The 4 Disciplines of Execution for Educators.  The book study provided background information so the cohort could optimize their time together at SMU. 

Picture of the 4 Disciplines of Execution book
A book study on The 4 Disciplines of Execution for Educators prepared Fellows for the Fall Retreat.

In October, Fellows met in person at SMU for the two-day Fall Retreat.  The cohort discussed their missions, along with individual and collective strengths.  Alternating between a full group and dyads, Fellows began building an Impact Model for their individual projects.  

Two women working on an Impact Model, first on paper then on laptop
Dr. LaBotta Taylor and Mrs. Olga Moucoulis working on their Impact Models.

Throughout the fall, the cohort met online as a whole group and as smaller peer groups.  Topics covered included the accountability component of their individual projects, the Active Listening technique, anticipating change, coping with the whirlwind, and communicating impact.    

Avatar and women sitting in two offices having a conversation.
Dr. Angie Brooks practicing her Active Listening skills with the Mursion avatar.

In January, Fellows returned to SMU for the Winter Retreat.  Fellows heard from program alum Dr. Darwin Spiller on the impact the District Leadership Fellows program continues to have on his work. 

Man talking to group of people seated at tables.
Dr. Darwin Spiller, program alum, presenting at the Winter Retreat.

Stephanie Knight, Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, lead a panel discussion on academic achievement, an area addressed directly in projects by panelists Dr. Toriano Green and Dr. Veronica Perkins, and addressed indirectly by panelists Dr. Kristin Hebert and Mr. Daniel Piña.   

Panel discussion with 5 people seated in chairs at the front of a room
Dean Stephanie Knight moderating a panel on academic achievement with panelists (left to right), Dr. Toriano Green, Mr. Daniel Piña, Dr. Kristin Hebert and Dr. Veronica Perkins.

Fellows provided updates on their individual projects which focused on areas including increasing academic performance, increasing advanced academic course enrollment, providing high quality instructional materials, creating an innovative bus route system, and improving truancy prevention measures.   

Image of three presentation slides
Montage of slides from mid-year updates.

The Fellows continued to meet with their peer groups throughout the spring.  They received coaching and support while implementing their individual projects. 

Interested in joining the next cohort to build your professional network and develop your leadership skills?  Click here to learn more and click here to apply.     

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at, and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn 

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