RGV educators selected to attend Harvard leadership programs this summer

LA FERIA, Texas – Six educators from the Rio Grande Valley have been chosen to attend one of the two 2022 summer institute Harvard leadership programs sponsored by the Charles Butt Foundation.

The Charles Butt Foundation is a non-profit whose aim is to create a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships.

The six Valley educators attending the Harvard leadership programs are:

La Feria ISD:

  • Yvette Cantu, Director of Testing and Accountability

Brownsville ISD:

  • Patricia Garza, Principal, Ortiz Elementary School

Edcouch-Elsa ISD:

  • Darren Cole-Ochoa, Principal, Carlos F. Truan Junior High School
  • Marisol Rocha, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Celina Silva, English Teacher/Department Chair, Carlos F. Truan Junior High School
  • Mauro Tijerina, Assistant Principal, Carlos F. Truan Junior High School

In total, the Butt foundation will sponsor 85 educators from 54 district and charter schools across Texas to attend weeklong summer institutes at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

“Great teachers, along with strong school and district leaders, represent the most significant influencers of academic achievement and supportive culture,” said Tim Miller, director of leadership development at the Charles Butt Foundation. 

“Our alumni often report that their Harvard experience is the best professional development they have ever experienced and that they return to their campuses energized, inspired, and empowered to make meaningful change that benefits all students.”

With these new cohorts, the Charles Butt Foundation will have paid for more than 1,400 educators to attend training at Harvard through the Raising School Leaders program, an initiative designed to develop stronger school leaders who will enhance the quality of education across Texas. 

The Charles Butt Foundation covers all expenses for the attendees including tuition, travel, hotel, and other discretionary costs for a total investment of more than $10 million since the program’s inception.

Attendees, including individual principals as well as campus teams, will participate in one of two weeklong workshops on leadership development, coaching, or school turnaround led by Harvard faculty and other national and international experts. Each program is designed to inspire, challenge, and empower school leaders to bring lasting impact to their campuses and communities, the entire state of Texas, and beyond.

Following the Harvard Institutes, attendees remain a part of the program’s statewide network of school leaders and are empowered to work together to create change at the campus and district levels. Alumni are sponsored to attend the organization’s annual leadership symposium and receive continuous support and professional development.

Edcouch-Elsa ISD leaders spoke about the Harvard School Turnaround Leaders Institute.

“I am excited for my team to attend Harvard’s School Turnaround Leadership Institute this June. As the only team selected from the Rio Grande Valley, I am honored to represent Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District and our community to gather all necessary resources for continuing success at Carlos F. Truan Jr. High School,” said Cole-Ochoa.

“I have been fortunate to have attended the Harvard School Turnaround Leaders Institute in the past and know that this will build the capacity in our leaders to create the conditions for rapid and sustained change in our district,” said Edcouch-Elsa ISD Superintendent, Dr. Greg Rodriguez.

La Feria ISD’s Cantu said: “It is an honor to have been selected to attend Harvard’s Principals Institute to further my knowledge about improving schools and outcomes for students. I am looking forward to continuing to raise the bar and what it means to create excellent schools for students, teachers, and families.”

Brownsville ISD’s Garza said: “I am thrilled to have been selected as part of the 2022 Harvard Leadership Program for school principals. I am looking forward to learning and being inspired by the program that will enable me to continue to serve South Texas teachers and students in a greater capacity. This learning will allow be to share a great magnitude all that we can offer our school communities.” 

About the Charles Butt Foundation


The Charles Butt Foundation is pursuing a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships. The Foundation is working toward a future in which all Texas children and families live in vibrant communities supported by a world-class education system. To learn more, visit CharlesButtFdn.org.


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