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Guest Blog: Wayside Schools, Altamira Academy

August 17, 2016

Wayside Schools Principal Attends Harvard University’s Prestigious National Institute for Urban School Leaders Program During Summer Break

Wayside Schools, a public charter school district serving more than 1,800 students in Pre-K for 3 year olds (PK3) through the 12th grade in south Austin, recently kicked off its 2016-17 school year during the final week of July. This year, Wayside: Altamira Academy’s (AMA) principal, Dan Horn, welcomed students back as a stronger leader. In May, Horn was selected to receive a Raise Your Hand Texas grant to attend the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at Harvard University. After attending the six-day leadership program during the summer, he returned to AMA to share his experience and the ways it continues to help him grow as a leader and advocate for the students Wayside Schools serves.

“The program centered around helping develop leaders in schools that are located in urban settings,” Horn explained. “It was very focused on supporting schools with issues such as social justice, closing the achievement gap, and the best ways to help students living in poverty,” he continued.

Not only did Horn get to visit a prestigious university for the leadership program, but he also received the opportunity to learn from the Harvard faculty members leading the presentations and network with other successful principals from around state, who were also attending courtesy of Raise Your Hand Texas.

Horn said, “There were two to three big presentations each day that had us digging into key topics, including how to use data effectively, support special education populations, establish a strong, positive culture for everyone involved with our campuses, as well as better support all students.”

After six days of learning from some of the best, Horn said he came home with several key takeaways and even more excitement to implement what he learned.

He explained, “We need to demand excellence of ourselves as teachers and educators, and principals need to stand strong and be more demanding of our faculty because there is always more we can do to better serve our students.”

Horn noted that it really is all about the students and doing what’s best for them. “I shouldn’t apologize to teachers for asking them to do the difficult work it takes to support the kids we serve,” he continued. “We are stronger than I think we realize. The power of building that successful culture and community on campus requires us to focus on being more intentional in our mission and vision.”

The campus mission at Wayside: AMA is to develop innovative, college-bound, global thinkers through inquiry and social awareness. This mission directly ties with the Wayside Schools district mission to prepare college ready, community engaged, global citizens through a rigorous, community-enriched education guided by the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes and personalized instruction.

Founded in 2015, AMA is the fourth and newest campus to join the Wayside Schools family. This year, the school offers PreK3-3rd grade and will continue to add a new grade level each year until it serves through 5th grade.

As a whole, Wayside Schools envisions growing to serve 2,500 students in south/southeast Austin, ensuring that all Wayside graduates receive IB Diplomas and reach 100 percent college acceptance, matriculation, and graduation.

“We are so proud of Dan for being selected for this elite program,” said Wayside Schools CEO, Matt Abbott. “The knowledge and practices he has gained will positively impact our entire school system, and I am happy to have such a strong leader on our team.”

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