Harlingen educators study leadership at Harvard

HARLINGEN — Raise your hand, Roland Ingram.

Raise your hand, Kristi David.

Both Harlingen school district principals are raising their hands high after attending leadership programs at The Principal’s Center at Harvard University.

“We interacted with some of the brightest minds in the business,” said Ingram, principal at Treasure Hills Elementary. Ingram attended the program “Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership Institute” from June 26 to July 2.

He and David were sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas, a nonprofit organization which works to strengthen and improve public education.

“We had 10 presenters over the course of seven days,” Ingram said. “They were world renowned for their work in the field of education, in particular educational leadership.”

David was surprised to discover so many similarities between herself and other educators.

“I could talk a long time,” said David, principal at Wilson Elementary. She attended the program, “Leadership: An Evolving Vision Institute” from July 10-16.

“One of the biggest aspects was the connections that were made with other principals throughout the world,” David said. “I realized we all have similar issues. There were a lot of differences, but we were all dealing with the same problems, same issues. And I think that was almost reassuring.”

She especially appreciated networking with a principal from Qatar.

“Of course she has the equity issues that she’s dealing with, women’s rights,” David said. “Here was a woman who was put in a position to be in charge. She described some of her struggles with that. She still had issues. She had behavior issues with the boys until they were removed.”

She recalled speaking with the principal about forming relationships with parents to deal with their children’s behavior in class and performance in their school work.

“I have issues with students and it’s very important to form those relationships with parents and things in order to get to the heart of teaching the children,” David said. “That was a big eye opener.”

Ingram and David both returned to Harlingen filled with all sorts of new ideas. They are now trying to determine which of those ideas they will implement at their schools. Ingram said he must submit a “prospectus” to Raise Your Hand Texas.

“That’s due in October,” Ingram said. “I’m still narrowing it down. They were all so good that it’s tough. It’s difficult to decide on the one thing that you want to implement. It’s still organizing in my head.”

David said she’s thinking along the lines of creating a vision for Harlingen schools.

“A lot of what I’m focusing on are the relationships, making sure you are aligning your strategies to those visions,” she said. “To be honest we all do those things. I was able to reflect a lot on the quality of what I’m doing.”