For Principal Kasey Bailey at Lawson Middle School, transformational leadership has been at the core of her education career for the last 10 years. Since joining HISD in 2015, the Achieve 180 principal has had a front-row seat in leading some of the district’s most underserved campuses.
“When it comes to supporting the district’s historically low-performing campuses, I have found that it’s crucial to place a microscope on the culture and instructional programs so that we can work together to truly diagnose and treat systemic student achievement issues that ultimately impact student achievement,” Bailey said.
Defined as the act, process or instance of change in character or condition, transformation can be the keyword used to describe the comprehensive leadership work Achieve 180 principals take on to shift the academic, emotional and social culture of campuses.
“The transformational leaders selected to lead our Achieve 180 campuses strategically and simultaneously work towards both short-term and long-term goals through systematic approaches that positively impact the entire school community,” Interim Chief Academic Officer Yolanda Rodriguez said. “They provide pathways to sustainability in school culture, teacher excellence, and closing the achievement gaps over time through courageous leadership and a genuine commitment to equity.”
Since Bailey’s principalship at Lawson, the campus has “Met Standard” according to TEA ratings and experienced an increase in the domains of student achievement and school progress.
“Effective leaders are visionaries and are able to craft action plans that can shift the trajectory of instruction and culture simultaneously—all stakeholders must keep their eye on the prize,” Bailey said. “In transformational work, all players are key in obtaining the goal and there must be consistent implementation of instructional and cultural systems with intentional monitoring and accountability.”
As Bailey and other Achieve 180 leaders prepare for their biggest challenge ahead, STARR testing, will be the leaders’ coaching skills that will be tested as they nurture faculty and students during one of the district’s intense periods.
“You must have grit in order to empower all stakeholders to take their place on the bus and do whatever it takes to move it forward,” Bailey said. “You must be willing to make adults uncomfortable for the sake of doing what’s best for the children.”