Giving Compass' Take:

• The Dallas Independent School District ACE program is an initiative that strategically selects educators and principals to improve school district growth.

• How can we better understand the needs of schools through the eyes of principals? How can education donors focus on providing capital for principals' needs?

• Learn about the six biggest struggles for school principals. 

Rockwell Stewart not only is a school leader; the educator knows the realities of her students’ lives. She grew up in the same Dallas neighborhood surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. Learning Center. She knows from personal experience the impact that a solid educational foundation can have on a child’s future.

Ms. Stewart stood out as a leader before being named the principal at MLK at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. She had served as an assistant principal at nearby Billy Dade Middle School, one of the original ACE campuses. “We saw at Dade, one of the most challenging middle schools, how she embraced the mission that all can achieve at a high level with the right teachers, supports, and culture,” Jolee Healey, the head of the Dallas Independent School District’s ACE program, explained.

Just as Dallas’s ACE program and Fort Worth’s Leadership Academies depend upon strategically selecting teachers, the initiatives think carefully about the principals who lead their schools. They look for “high-growth” leaders who have shown they can improve student outcomes by improving instruction and school culture.

This part of the ACE model is crucial. Principals are second only to teachers when it comes to impact on student outcomes. Great teachers stay with great principals — and great teachers leave schools led by ineffective principals.

The George W. Bush Institute’s own research supports the importance of districts building systems that help districts recruit, support, and retain highly-effective principals in every school.

Leading complex organizations — like ACE campuses or Leadership Academy schools — requires that the principals serve as ambassadors and advocates for their campuses and students in addition to improving instruction and culture.

Read the full article about the collaboration between principals and teachers by Anne Wicks at The 74.