F.J. Young Elementary Principal, Dr. Tabitha Coffman, is 1 of 50 school leaders selected for Harvard Institute

Excited by the opportunity to represent Seminole at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dr. Tabitha Coffman looks forward to learning and networking with school leaders across the world. "My role as a leader is to model the way, grow staff and students, create a pipeline for future transformational leaders, give individuals a voice, and transform those that I serve," stated Dr. Coffman. "I am blessed to have the best job in the world, and I want all to be led by the best version of me."

AUSTIN, TX (April 28, 2023) – The Charles Butt Foundation, a nonprofit pursuing a more equitable and prosperous future for all Texans through education and community partnerships, announced today it will sponsor 50 educators from 35 district and charter schools across Texas to attend weeklong summer institutes at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

With these new cohorts, the Charles Butt Foundation will have paid for more than 1,500 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 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.

“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.”

For this summer’s institutes, preference was given to school leaders from districts that were considered rural or had a student enrollment of less than 5,000. “As demographics shift in Texas, we recognize that the needs of schools in rural and smaller districts are unique. Creating a space for school leaders in rural and smaller districts to find commonalities, problem solve, and build a network of support is an important component of this year’s Raising School Leaders program,” added Miller. Two participants (Patricia De Luna Garza and Melinda Gardner) were selected last year but were not able to attend the institute.

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 biannual leadership symposium and receive continuous support and professional development.

Below is a list of all cohort members from across Texas.

Archer City ISD

John Sherrill, Principal, Archer City High School

Austin ISD

Patricia De Luna Garza, Executive Director, Austin ISD

Bangs ISD

Candace Wilson, Principal, J.B. Stephens Elementary School

Buna ISD

Katy Hicks, Principal, Buna Junior High School

Burkburnett ISD

Kevin Hunter, Principal, Overton Ray Elementary School

Canadian ISD

Jeffrey Quisenberry, Principal, Baker Elementary School

Columbia Brazoria ISD

William Jeffery, Principal, Columbia High School

Corsicana ISD

Jessica Gist, Assistant Principal, Corsicana Middle School

Karen Kopp, Dean of Teacher Support, Corsicana Middle School

Audrey Marx, Teacher, Corsicana Middle School

Bradley Thomason, Principal, Corsicana Middle School

Crandall ISD

Matthew Besherse, Principal, Martin Elementary School

Crockett County CCSD

Erica Cruz, Principal, Ozona Elementary School

Fabens ISD

Edgar Rincon, Principal, Fabens High School

Floresville ISD

Heather Brooks, Principal, North Elementary School

Gainesville ISD

Amy Allen, Assistant Principal, Chalmers Elementary School

Taylor Dudenhoeffer, Reading Interventionist, Chalmers Elementary School

LaCreasha Stille, Assistant Superintendent, Gainesville ISD

Brandon Whiten, Principal, Chalmers Elementary School

Gonzales ISD

Ariana Hernandez, Principal, Gonzales Primary Academy

Hamlin Collegiate ISD

Michelle Jones, Dean of Academics, Hamlin Collegiate Elementary School

Rachael McClain, District Coordinator of School Improvement, Hamlin Collegiate ISD

Katy Sepeda, Reading Interventionist, Hamlin Collegiate Elementary School

Bambi Teaff, Principal, Hamlin Collegiate Elementary School

Hawley ISD

Jacob Cox, Principal, Hawley Elementary School

Hereford ISD

Linda Finch, Principal, Hereford Junior High School

Christian Garza, Teacher, Hereford Junior High School

Jennifer Jolly, District Coordinator of School Improvement, Hereford ISD

Erin Warrilow, Instructional Coach, Hereford Junior High School

Lasara ISD

Alexandria Lupercio, Principal, Lasara Elementary School

Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD

Amber Hawk, Principal, Little Cypress Elementary School

Mineral Wells ISD

Jaycee Roach, Principal, Houston Elementary School

Paris ISD

Kristi Callihan, Principal, Paris Junior High School

Port Aransas ISD

David Swartwout, Principal, Port Aransas High School

Poth ISD

Laura Kroll, Principal, Poth High School

Riesel ISD

Stacey Dieterich, Principal, Riesel School

Rosebud-Lott ISD

Jonathan Shaw, Principal, Rosebud-Lott Elementary School

Runge ISD

Esther Cardin, Teacher, Runge Elementary School

Hector Dominguez, Superintendent, Runge ISD

Angelina Torres, Principal, Runge Elementary School

Allison Wells, Assistant Principal, Runge Elementary School

San Augustine ISD

Jeremy Small, Principal, San Augustine High School

San Elizario ISD

April Marioni, Principal, San Elizario High School

San Vicente ISD

Jessi Milam, Principal/Superintendent, San Vicente/San Vicente ISD

Seminole ISD

Tabitha Coffman, Principal, F.J. Young Elementary School

Shepherd ISD

Alisa Lott, Principal, Shepherd Primary School

Tornillo ISD

Myrna Lopez-Patti, Principal, Tornillo Elementary School

Venus ISD

Kimberly Buck, Principal, Venus Middle School

Waller ISD

Melissa Crosby, Principal, Fields Store Elementary School

Wayside Schools

Melinda Gardner, Principal, Altamira Academy

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Tessa Benavides-Cooper

[email protected]


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