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Principals Grow as Community Leaders, Advocate for Texas Public Schools

October 05, 2022  

Anne Lasseigne Tiedt, APR
Senior Director of Strategic Communications, Raise Your Hand Texas
[email protected], (512) 784-3805

Principals Grow as Community Leaders, Advocate for Texas Public Schools

Raise Your Hand Texas Announces New Principals Advocacy Fellows

AUSTIN, TX (October 5, 2022) – Raise Your Hand Texas today announced a new cohort of leaders in their Principals Advocacy Fellowship. Eleven principals, all alumni of the Charles Butt Foundation (formerly Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation) programs, will embark on a nine-month fellowship focused on growing community leaders and advocates on behalf of public schools in Texas.

These eleven principals, representing the diversity of the state of Texas and its public schools, will learn concrete advocacy skills, expand their education policy knowledge, and get directly involved in electoral and legislative advocacy. 

“With political discourse around public education becoming more polarized and partisan, there has never been a more important time for public school leaders to get involved in the policy-making process,” said Dr. Libby Cohen, Raise Your Hand Texas’ senior director of advocacy. “Principals have first-hand, front-line experience in the day-to-day work of our public schools, their teachers and students. Their perspective helps lawmakers to make good decisions on behalf of kids.” 

The new cohort of Principals Advocacy Fellowship participants includes:

  • Justin D. Crittenden, Tom Moore HS, Ingram ISD
  • Wayland M. Cooksey, Ed.D, Miles High School, Miles ISD
  • Sonia Gonzales, M.Ed, Kermit Elementary, Kermit ISD
  • Toscha Reeves, A.M. Story Intermediate School, Palestine ISD
  • Holly Elgin, M.Ed., Annetta Elementary School, Aledo ISD
  • Aretha Jackson, Kerr Elementary School, Allen ISD
  • Michael Semmler, Leaman Junior High School, Lamar Consolidated ISD
  • Kellie Rapp, Ph.D., Tadlock Elementary, Frisco ISD
  • Patricia Ephlin, Ed.D, Hernandez Middle School, Round Rock ISD
  • Mark Koller, Stacy Kaye Danielson Middle School, Leander ISD
  • Todd Bloomer, Churchill High School, Northeast ISD

Fellowship activities will include four cohort-wide sessions in Austin; participation in candidates’ forums and get-out-the vote campaigns in their communities; and implementing advocacy action plans with the support of Raise Your Hand’s regional advocacy directors. 

“Principals are directly connected to hundreds–sometimes thousands–of students, parents, educators, and community members. We believe they are in unique positions to serve as strong public education advocates,” said Cohen. 

All Principals Advocacy fellows’ will engage in issue-based and non-partisan work and events. Fellows will not be involved in supporting or opposing specific candidates.

“Public education is always on the ballot,” said Cohen. “Investing in and supporting public education isn’t a partisan issue and should always be a focal point for lawmakers at our state capitol.”

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Raise Your Hand Texas supports public policy solutions that invest in our students, encourage innovation and autonomy, and improve college and workforce readiness. For more information, visit 

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