Yasmin Bhatia, Uplift Education CEO, graduated from the Presidential Leadership Scholars program along with 59 individuals from diverse backgrounds and geographies that span a variety of sectors, including private, public, non-profit, military, and academia, who were selected because of their desire and capacity to strengthen their leadership skills. At the end of the program, each scholar proposed a program to take back to their communities. Bhatia has proposed a North Texas Principal Fellowship to provide training for school principals in order to inspire and engage them, improve their schools and increase principal retention rates.
Bhatia has been the CEO of Uplift Education since 2009, and has firsthand experience working to retain high-quality school leaders. She described two main pain points that the Principal Fellowship seeks to address.
“When high-performing school leaders leave schools, it not only has negative implications on student academic progress but often times great ideas on how to improve schools leaves with that principal. It’s also difficult to develop and implement truly innovative ideas when leading the day-to-day work of schools and the often unpredictable nature of the environment,” she said.
The program, which will work to gain funding this year for a proposed launch in 2016, will select 8-10 principals with at least two years of experience and a proven track record of success from both charter and traditional districts across North Texas. Through the program, Bhatia hopes to re-inspire school leaders and surround them with like-minded leaders to create a project that could leave to positive outcomes for the children that they serve.
“High-performing principals often have theories of change or ideas they want to test out but don’t have time to do it. Hence when principals leave, we not only lose their leadership over schools but we create a ‘knowledge drain’ in the education reform space. This program would help keep both the principals and their ideas on campuses where students need them the most,” she explained.
Uplift enters the coming school year with 34 schools on 17 campuses across Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Grand Prairie and DeSoto a serve a record 14,000 students. Two new campuses will open in the fall including Uplift Gradus Preparatory, a K-2 school in DeSoto and Uplift Lee Preparatory which will be located inside Grand Prairie ISD’s Lee Elementary. The schools are part of Education Energized (E2) a partnership unique to North Texas that will house a public charter school and a traditional public school in the same building with the goal of collaboration and learning best practices from each campus to benefit the students they each serve.
“At Uplift we know what we do well, and what areas we need to grow. In PLS, we learned about the importance of coalition-building and partnership. This coming year, I’m excited to combine strengths with Grand Prairie ISD to collaborate and share best practices and to launch the North Texas Principals Fellowship to create that same level of sharing across our broader community,” Bhatia said.