2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows Cohort Convenes

The 2022-2023 cohort of District Leadership Fellows has begun the year with an in-person meeting at SMU.  

Group photo

After two years entirely online, the Institute for Leadership Impact was delighted to host district leaders from across Texas and Arkansas in-person at SMU for a two-day kick-off for the District Leadership Fellows program.   

People at tables discussing challenge

Program director Dr. G. Bing launched the program by challenging teams of leaders to solve a problem well outside their usual experience.  While planning to slow the health crisis in Africa might seem removed from providing the best education possible to children in the United States, it became clear that the leadership skills needed to solve one challenge applied directly to the other challenge.      

Person smiling

To start day two, fellows engaged in a mindfulness activity, remembering and re-finding their purpose and motivation.  They will keep their larger goal in sight as they move through the year.   

One person interviewing another

Each leader entered the program with a goal in their district they want to accomplish overt the course of the program.  Leaders began by interviewing each other about their district goal, internal and external resources available, and the activities they might carry out to accomplish their goal.  From there, leaders moved on to talking through measuring progress along the way.  Each leader then transferred this information over to an Impact Model.   

Group of people working at a table

Following the kick-off, leaders have been refining their Impact Model in discussion with their district team, and their Peer Group.  The cohort is continuing to meet online, with an in-person winter retreat scheduled in January.   

Group at tables smiling

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit ourwebsite, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.   

SMU Institute for Leadership Impact Welcomes 2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows 

32 school district leaders have been welcomed into the 2022-2023 cohort of District Leadership Fellows, a hybrid in-person and online leadership training program for school district superintendents and executive district leaders run by the Institute for Leadership Impact at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.   

Montage of headshots

The 2022-2023 cohort, the largest since the program was founded in 2016, includes leaders from school districts in Arkansas and across Texas.  It includes Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents, along with Executive Directors and other district leaders.  School districts of many different sizes are represented, from rural schools with less than two hundred students, to urban districts with over sixty thousand students.    

Of the program, 2021-2022 participant Dr. Angela Herron, Chief Teaching & Learning Officer, Grand Prairie ISD, said “SMU’s District Leadership Fellows program is a wonderful program that enhanced my ability to lead with a more laser focus on my desired goals for my district. Through complex, relevant, and engaging activities, the program equipped me with the tools to have a more strategic approach to problem-solving, which allowed me to lead more efficiently and systematically.  I appreciate my time in the program and found each session beneficial to increasing outcomes for my district.” 

The District Leadership Fellows program is a strengths-based leadership development program that enhances the leadership abilities of established and emerging school district leaders through an intensive year-long cohort. Through collaboration with peers and recognized education experts, Fellows are empowered to solve hard problems in their districts, build their leadership skills, and develop lasting educational leadership networks. The program is hosted by the Institute for Leadership Impact in the Simmons School of Education & Human Development at SMU in Dallas, Texas. 

 Who’s in the 2022-2023 cohort? 

School leaders in the upcoming cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program include Dr. Dana Arreola (Executive Director of Leadership Development, Aldine ISD), Dr. Stephanie Bonneau (Principal, Mansfield ISD), Dr. Keena Bradley (Executive Director of Employee Services and Experience, Aldine ISD), Mrs. Onjaleke Brown (Superintendent, St. Anthony Academy), Mr. Brett Bunch (Superintendent, Brookland Public Schools), Mrs. Shenikwa Cager (Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, A W Brown Leadership Academy), Dr. Sedric Clark (Superintendent, Gladewater ISD), Dr. Michelle Cline (Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD), Dr. Kristin Craft (Associate Superintendent, Spring Branch ISD), Dr. Denver Crum (Superintendent, Springlake-Earth ISD), Dr. Carnelius Gilder (Superintendent, West Sabine ISD), Dr. Winnifred Goodman (Chief of Schools, Duncanville ISD), Mr. Tellauance Graham (Assistant Superintendent, Cedar Hill ISD), Mr. Ron Holmgreen (Superintendent, Brock ISD), Dr. Brad Hunt (Superintendent, Coppell ISD), Mrs. Gaya Jefferson (Executive Director of Professional Learning, Richardson ISD), Mr. George Kennedy (Assistant Superintendent, Brookland Public Schools), Dr. Tonya Knowlton (Superintendent, Community ISD), Mrs. Jaema Krier (Director of Administration, UT Tyler University Academy), Dr. Donny Lee (Superintendent, Wichita Falls ISD), Dr. Sandra Moore (Executive Director Human Resources, Richardson ISD), Ms. Karalei Nunn (Founder & COO, Meridian World School), Dr. Jeremy Owoh (Superintendent, Jacksonville North Pulaski School District), Dr. Veronica Perkins (Superintendent, Blytheville School District), Dr. Brenda Poole (Superintendent, Brinkley Public Schools), Dr. Mike Rockwood (Superintendent, Lake Dallas ISD), Dr. Darwin Spiller (Executive Director of Title IX Compliance & Investigations, Richardson ISD), Mr. Jeremy Strickland (Superintendent, Trenton ISD), Dr. Bryan Taulton (Superintendent of Schools, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD), Ms. Cindy Trevino (Chief of Human Resources and Student Services, Edgewood ISD), Mrs. Amanda Wallace (Assistant Superintendent of Personnel & Policy, Henderson ISD), and Mrs. Taylor Williams (Superintendent, Slidell ISD).  Mr. Bunch, and Drs. Cline and Poole are returning Fellows.   

 To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.  

District Leadership Fellows Discuss Enhancing the Superintendent – School Board Relationship

Program alum Dr. Chris Moran shared his wisdom on effectively working with school boards.

Headshot
Dr. Chris Moran, Superintendent, Whitehouse ISD

At a recent cohort meeting, Dr. Chris Moran, Superintendent of Whitehouse ISD, shared his experiences in enhancing the superintendent – school board relationship.  Drawing on his 30 years in education, including 11 as a school superintendent, Dr. Moran shared with fellows his 10 Commandments for Board Superintendent Relations:

I am the Board, your boss, you should have no strange goals before me
Take the time needed to work with the board to develop a strong strategic plan so everyone is working towards the same shared goals.

Don’t take the name of the board, your boss, in vain
It is so important that the board knows that you respect and value them.  You can do that by investing time with them.

Remember to keep holy the board’s day
Board meeting days, and days leading up to board meetings, should be time to focus and ensure the board meeting is a successful and pleasant experience.  Prepare the board well in advance of big agenda items, starting months in advance if needed.

Honor your Board of Trustees members
Never say a disparaging word about a board member to anyone.  You can be sure it will resurface if you do.

You should not kill your future by picking battles you should not fight
Pick your battles wisely and be a consistent leader.

Don’t commit unfaithful acts against your board
As superintendent you are always on the clock. Dress and act like the superintendent they hired you to be at all times.

Don’t steal the credit
Give credit when credit is due.  Make time daily to give encouragement and recognition to someone in your district.

Don’t bear false witness against your board
Give only solid and accurate information to the board.  Hiding or shading information will ruin trust and destroy relationships.

Don’t covet other people to serve on the board
Serve the board you are given, just bloom where you are planted with the board you have.

Don’t covet your neighbor board’s operating procedures
Develop your district operating procedures with the board, so everyone is on board with the ground rules.

These 10 items provided a basis for the discussion that followed.  Fellows shared their experiences and discussed how to best apply the points raised by Dr. Moran, and others, in their own districts.  Collaboration with peers is one of the key components of the District Leadership Fellows program, and this session provided a great demonstration of that process in action.  

Interested in building your professional network and collaborating with peers?  Apply to join the next cohort.   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 leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

Creating Impact Serves as Cornerstone of District Leadership Fellows Program

“The District Leadership Fellows Impact Model has been very beneficial for me. It gives me a way to distill big ideas into something that is very concise and easier to communicate.”  Dr. John Tackett, 2020-2021 cohort alum

 

Dr. Eric Bing working with District Leadership Fellows
Dr. Eric Bing facilitating a group discussion with District Leadership Fellows

The District Leadership Fellows program at SMU, designed for school superintendents and executive district leaders, focuses on creating impact.  Each Fellow enters the program with a leadership project they wish to accomplish over the course of the year.  Early cohort sessions introduce the Impact Model, an organizational framework for thinking through the project, communicating the project to others, and executing the project. Later cohort and coaching sessions offer support and collaboration as Fellows implement their Impact Models.

 

Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent of Throckmorton Collegiate ISD and District Leadership Fellows alum, sat down the Dr. Eric G. Bing, Director of the Institute for Leadership Impact, to talk through the Impact Model and how it helped her achieve goals in her district.  Learn more about her experience in this video.

Interested in joining the next cohort and creating impact in your district?  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 leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

2021-2022 Cohort of District Leadership Fellows Celebrate Program Completion

Gratitude, conviction, execution, growth, intentional, accountable and open are words the 2021-2022 cohort will embody as they move forward on their leadership journey.  

Headshots of 27 District Leadership Fellows, 2021-2022 Cohort

At the final meeting of the 2021-2022 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program, Fellows had the opportunity to celebrate their successes and reflect on their mission and journey.  Fellows read back through their initial thoughts on their mission, and reflected on whether those sentiments still spoke to them.  They had the opportunity to reaffirm or modify their mission, and to talk through how they might strengthen the alignment between their actions and mission to make their work more meaningful and impactful.   

Headshot
Dr. Debbie Atwell, Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools

Dr. Debbie Atwell began the discussion on the cohort’s leadership journeys by speaking on her passion for her work in Mountainburg Public Schools. The cohort then reflected on their own leadership journeys, what they will take with them as they move forward, and how they have grown as leaders.   
 
Congratulations to the 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows!  We are proud of you and wish you continued success and growth on your leadership journeys. 

Interested in joining the next cohort to 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 leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

Students Test Virtual Reality Surgical Simulation Developed at SMU

Over the summer of 2021, three SMU undergraduate students and one high school student tested components of a research study training surgeons in Zambia to treat postpartum hemorrhage.  Three of the students tested a virtual reality surgical simulation developed for the study. 

Khasvi S. using the virtual reality surgical simulation to practice the steps of a hysterectomy surgery.
Khasvi S. using the virtual reality surgical simulation to practice the steps of a hysterectomy surgery.

SMU undergraduate students James Gullett, Thomas Truong and Muaz Wahid, along with high school student Kashvi S., interned in the SMU Center for Global Health Impact in summer 2021.  All four tested various components of a research study training surgeons in Zambia to treat postpartum hemorrhage.  Thomas and Muaz tested and provided feedback on the virtual reality surgical simulation developed at SMU to train surgeons in performing a simple hysterectomy.   

Thomas described his experience  “My role in this project was to go through the eLearning course and Virtual Reality simulation as a complete beginner, noting how the material on disease and surgical interventions was presented and detailing my learning experience throughout. What I took away was an incredibly engaging exposure to medicine, education, and the process of learning. In deep diving into the many nuances of a surgical intervention, I was kept afloat by my experiences with the VR simulation, a way to apply my knowledge hands-on. Only by seeing the real-world application in front of me could I make sense of everything I was learning, an interactive style of teaching that I am confident will not only help Zambian physicians, but students everywhere. 

Thomas reflected “As the summer ended, I realized how this internship made me aware of how I can play a larger role in health and education, especially useful in countries like Zambia where there is often one physician per hundreds, if not thousands, of people. As I pursue a career in medicine, the feeling of being constantly engaged and curious during my time at SMU’s Center for Global Health Impact has directed my attention to medical education, a field I now want to impact in my future.” 

An early stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing clamping of the uterine vessels
An early stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing clamping of the uterine vessels

Muaz, who went into the simulation with confidence given his years of experience with technology through computer video games, was surprised at the level of intricacy and accuracy the simulation required. He shared “Personally, my experience with the hysterectomy surgery simulation made me realize the complexities and challenges of surgery. However, as I watched others like Thomas practice the simulation, I was able to adopt ways to be successful. With a month of practice, I now scored highly with consistency. I was finally able to do the surgery unassisted and help teach others, including a high school student, how to operate the VR.” 

A later stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing suturing on the cardinal ligament. 
A later stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing suturing on the cardinal ligament.

Following testing of the virtual reality surgical simulation at SMU, study material was shipped to Zambia.  In the Fall of 2021, surgeons in Zambia participated in the study.  Data from those participants is being analyzed at SMU.   

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit ourwebsite, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.   

Applications Open for 2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows

“District Leadership Fellows is such a helpful program to not only connect with other school leaders, but also gain insight from Dr. Bing. He brings a different view and lens to school leaders.” – Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, Texas 

 

Applications are open for the 2022-2023 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows, a hybrid in-person and online strengths-based leadership development program run by the Institute for Leadership Impact at Southern Methodist University. Established and emerging district leaders who are collaborative, motivated to create change, and who have a strong desire for personal leadership growth are invited to applyFellows will apply learning from cohort meetings, peer group meetings and interactive tutorials to a real-world challenge in their districts. 

Tools 
  • Receive individual and group coaching 
  • Participate in a dynamic online environment 
  • Learn from SMU faculty and education experts 
  • Engage with in-house interactive training modules 
Takeaways 
  • Enhance your leadership skills 
  • Better align your work with your personal mission 
  • Apply your learning to a real-world challenge in your district 
  • Expand your network and collaborate with a diverse cohort of peers 

Program Timeline 
  • January 20, 2022 Applications open 
  • March 31, 2022– Priority applications deadline 
  • April -May, 2022 – Rolling applications
  • June 30, 2022Application deadline
  • Summer, 2022 – Strengths assessment
Updated Provisional Schedule 

Fall 2022 

  • In-person kick-off 
  • 2-hour biweekly cohort meetings online 
  • 1-hour biweekly Peer Group meetings online 

Spring 2023 

  • In-person winter retreat
  • 1-hour monthly Peer Group meetings online

Eligibility: Superintendents and executive district leaders who report directly to superintendents are invited to apply 

Program Fee: $995 

Applications and nominations: Interested in joining the cohort?  Complete your application here.  Know someone who would be a great fit for the program?  Nominate them here 

More information: Download the program flyer, visit the Institute for Leadership Impact website, email Christine Ferguson at cjferguson@smu.edu, or call 214-768-1073. 

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

District Leadership Fellows Reach Halfway Point and Focus on Creating Impact

I can go almost directly to that goal, without leaving and going back and forth  …..and I contribute that model with just keeping us focused and determined and driven.   Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD.

The 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows have reached the halfway point of this year’s program.  Leaders are developing their skills, learning new communication techniques, and using an Impact Model to create change in their districts.     

Dr. Debbie Atwell talking with avatar Linda
Dr. Debbie Atwell, Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools using the mixed-reality teaching simulation.

Fellows have been learning and practicing a communication technique called Active Listening.  Fellows had the opportunity to practice Active Listening using a mixed-reality teaching simulation called Mursion. Using the simulation provides an opportunity to practice skills in a safe environment, and to pause the simulation to receive real-time feedback and coaching.  

District Leaders have also been working through the components of an Impact Model for their individual problems of practice.  They have been:

  • Framing a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed (SMART) 
  • Analyzing available resources available as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) 
  • Brainstorming and selecting key activities that will produce the most results (80:20 Rule) 
  • Evaluating measures to ensure the key activities are being carried out and producing the expected results (Lead and Lag Measures) 
Photo of Dr. Michelle Cline in her office
Dr. Michelle Cine, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD

2019-2020 and 2021-2022 cohort member Dr. Michelle Cline of Throckmorton Collegiate ISD cited the Impact Model with helping her think through, analyze and explain all the components that contribute to getting to her goal.     

In the new year, Fellows will provide an update on their projects, and receive continued support as they implement their models.   

Interested in joining the next cohort? Email Christine Ferguson at cjferguson@smu.edu to receive updates.  Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort will open in the new year.   

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.   

2021-2022 District Leadership Fellows Cohort Convenes

Twenty-seven district leaders have kicked off the 2010-2022 District Leadership Fellows cohort with an online meeting.  

District Leadership Fellows cohort convenes

Leaders from Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas and New York have kicked off the 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows program with an online meeting.  After a quick welcome, the leaders jumped right into a leadership challenge before introducing themselves and their districts.    

Fellows have been taking a deep dive into goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound (SMART).  They have been working through the resources available to them in their district and communities as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).  Fellows will be incorporating this information into an Impact Model for a problem of practice in their district.

Part of Impact Model

Fellows will add activities and lead and lag measures to their model.  Peer Group meetings, along with group and individual coaching, will provide ongoing support and encouragement as leaders update and implement their Impact Models as the year continues.  

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.   

SMU Institute for Leadership Impact Welcomes 2021-2022 District Leadership Fellows

“I would say that District Leadership Fellows definitely saved me . . . in so many ways. I felt like I wasn’t alone.” – Khechara Bradford(Deputy Superintendent of Learning, Providence Public Schools, RI) 

District Leadership Fellows 2021-2022 Cohort

With 27 participating school leaders, the newest cohort of SMU’s District Leadership Fellows is the largest since the program was founded in 2016. The cohort, which hails from school districts in Arkansas, New Mexico, New York, and Texas, includes participants who hold many different leadership positions in districts of many different sizes. 

The SMU District Leadership Fellows program is a strengths-based leadership development program that enhances the leadership abilities of established and emerging school district leaders through an intensive year-long cohort. Through collaboration with peers and recognized education experts, Fellows are empowered to solve hard problems in their districts, build their leadership skills, and develop lasting educational leadership networks. The program is hosted by the Institute for Leadership Impact in the Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. 

Dr. Eric G. Bing, the director of the District Leadership Fellows program, remarked that the program has undergone significant changes in response to the challenges faced by school leaders in a time of public health uncertainty. According to Dr. Bing, the program has expanded to include leaders from many different regions and types of communities, and has increased its focus on addressing problems related to student well-being and gaps in learning. 

Who’s in the 2021-2022 cohort? 

School leaders in the upcoming cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program include Dr. Debbie Atwell (Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools, AR), Mrs. Akilah Bennings (District Instructional Coordinator, RMA Texas Public Schools, TX), Mr. Chris Bradshaw (Superintendent, Maud ISD, TX), Dr. Michelle Cline (Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, TX), Mr. Matt Cole (Superintendent, Livonia Central School District, NY), Dr. James Cowley (Superintendent of Schools, Groesbeck ISD, TX), Mr. Zach Crawford (Superintendent, Zavalla ISD, TX), Mr. Brandon Dennard, (Lead Learner / Superintendent, Red Lick ISD, TX), Mrs. Althea Dixon (Assistant Superintendent, Paris ISD, TX), Dr. Wendy Eldredge (Superintendent, Crandall ISD, TX), Mr. Mark Ferrer, (Assistant Superintendent – Human Resources, New Diana ISD, TX), Dr. Kimberly Gilmore Madkins (Assistant Superintendent of School Leadership, Edgewood ISD, TX), Dr. Matthew Gutierrez (Superintendent, Seguin ISD, TX), Dr. Eduardo Hernandez (Superintendent, Edgewood ISD, TX), Dr. Angela Herron (Chief Teaching & Learning Officer, Grand Prairie ISD, TX), Dr. Darin Jolly (Deputy Superintendent, Ennis ISD, TX), Dr. Thurston Lamb (Superintendent, Henderson ISD, TX), Ms. Malinda Lindsey (Superintendent, Kennard ISD, TX), Mr. Joe Lopez (Superintendent of Schools, Kermit ISD, TX), Dr. Deidre Parish (Superintendent, Darrouzett ISD, TX), Dr. Brenda Poole (Superintendent, Brinkley Public Schools, AR), Dr. Andy Reddock (Superintendent, Flatonia ISD, TX), Dr. Gene Schmidt (Superintendent, Farmington Municipal Schools, NM), Dr. Lisa Stanley (Superintendent, North Texas Collegiate Academy, TX), Dr. Des Stewart (Superintendent, Gainesville ISD, TX), Mr. Art Urquidi (most recently Assistant Superintendent, Lake Worth ISD, TX), Dr. Sandi Whitley (Executive Director of Leadership Development, Forney ISD, TX). Drs. Cline, Jolly, Parish, and Reddock are returning Fellows. 

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.