Raise Your Hand Texas has sponsored hundreds of principals across the state to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Principals’ Center. The center offers a variety of professional development programs designed to empower school leaders at all levels of experience and principals at the helm of different types of schools.

Summer institutes include:

School Turnaround Leaders

This institute will allow you to analyze elements critical to your school’s turnaround plan. You will gain key leadership skills and learn strategies for successful implementation. Specific topics include understanding the importance of high instructional quality and expectations, translating data into action, developing effective teams, leading a change effort, and creating meaningful engagement with community and external partners. By the end of the program, you will understand how to transform school culture, identify and achieve early success, measure results, understand how to best align school-level efforts with district and state goals, and implement a new theory of action.

Leadership: An Evolving Vision

This institute provides tools and strategies to help you become more adaptive and responsive to constantly changing school environments. You will connect theory to practice in an effort to improve individual, group and organizational performance within the context of your school. Through plenary sessions, group discussions and personal reflection, you will assess the effectiveness of your leadership style and strengthen your skills to be better positioned to meet current and future challenges. The highly interactive environment will help you to strengthen your leadership and management skills and revitalize your personal vision of leadership. This Institute is designed for all school leaders.

National Institute for Urban School Leaders

This institute will examine best practices and research-based techniques that support student achievement. It provides an in-depth exploration of the leadership skills necessary to enhance and sustain learning outcomes. You will examine schools in relation to the broader community contexts — exploring race, culture, equity, socioeconomic status, and social justice in today’s diverse urban classrooms. You will focus on strategies for improving teaching and learning, and building community support for the work of schools. When you leave, you will be better prepared to transform your learning landscape to support higher student achievement and successful outcomes for all students.

Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership

This institute helps you identify areas of school improvement, establish priorities, develop strategies, and build a base of support around a change initiative. You will explore successful models for school improvement, learn how to lead and manage change, and understand how to implement curriculum innovation. Through research-based curriculum, you will focus on effective supervision and evaluation, multiple approaches to solving leadership challenges and how to best support teaching and learning in the classroom. Upon completion of the program you will have examined your own leadership challenges in the context of instruction improvement and learned methods to lead and manage your school more effectively. The institute is designed for all school leaders and is particularly suited for those in the early years of their careers.

Closing The Achievement Gap

This institute focuses on contemporary frameworks used to understand instructional quality, student engagement, youth development, parenting and leadership in racially diverse communities. Challenges of responding effectively to racial, ethnic and socio-economic differences within school communities will receive special attention. Using a socio-ecological approach, you will consider the interdependence of each stakeholder’s role in raising student achievement and closing gaps. You will gain a firm understanding of how your school community can strategically and effectively work together with shared goals for improved student outcomes. Prior to the program, you will have access to a Harvard-designed online research tool you can use to collect perspectives from local stakeholders on key issues in your school or district. Using ideas from the program and the survey data, you will outline an action plan to engage others in accomplishing your goals when you return home.

Family Engagement in Education

This institute will prepare you to establish a culture and practices that genuinely honor and respect the knowledge that families bring to school improvement. It will familiarize you with research in the U.S. and internationally which indicates that family engagement is critically important to student achievement. You will learn to design family engagement strategies that are directly connected to student learning. Led by Harvard faculty who are seasoned practitioners, as well as district and community leaders, you will join educators who are committed to embracing families in their efforts to improve educational outcomes for all.

Seated principals apply through a competitive process with Raise Your Hand to attend the weeklong professional development summer courses taught by internationally renowned and published faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, MA. Principals must be recommended for the program by a direct supervisor. The application process involves essay writing, participating in a critical thinking exercise, and interviews (group and individual).


Million dollars invested (to date)


Principals Sponsored

The impact of our leadership programs extends far beyond the participating principals.

We recognize the critical role of human capital in building student achievement. Absent a higher salary structure for educators, the most powerful incentive to retain effective teachers is supportive leadership. Once principals return from their transformative summer at Cambridge, we work to continuously support and develop them professionally as part of our statewide network of school leaders.

Principal alumni join the Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Leadership Collaborative which connects alumni in regional groups who visit each other’s campuses, conduct instructional rounds, share best practices, and problem-solve on current issues in education. Through these groups, principals are empowered to work together to create change at the campus and district levels.

By investing in our state’s school leaders, we are investing in the future of Texas.

Raise Your Hand covers all travel, hotel stay, and tuition expenses, and provides a daily stipend for all principals selected. While at Cambridge, Raise Your Hand supports principals in networking, setting goals, and developing action plans for when they return to their campuses. The Raise Your Hand program director attends the program with the school leaders. Upon returning, the program director conducts campus visits throughout the year to share resources and give feedback on implementation of ideas and action plans from the Harvard institutes. Raise Your Hand’s marketing team sends out periodic digital newsletters, and also visits alumni on campus to capture personal stories about their week at Harvard. These leadership stories are told through the use of photos, videos, and other multimedia, and are published on our Stories page.


What will you learn during your summer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education?

  • Master a step-by-step process for using data as a lever for school improvement.
  • Better understand how to use Excel® and PowerPoint® to analyze, display, and tell your data story.
  • Successfully lead faculty in examining instruction.
  • Develop skills and techniques to foster effective communication, team building, and inclusion.
  • Shape a school culture that supports learning for all.
  • Develop an understanding of how teacher development directly contributes to school improvement.
  • Fully utilize your role in change management.
  • Apply the latest research and best practices to your own school improvement efforts.
  • Enhance your personal leadership capacity and instructional leadership skills.