Persuaded by the need for significant educational reform efforts to improve K–12 public schools and teaching and learning, the Holmes Partnership® (initially the Holmes Group) emerged in the 1980’s to engage in educational reform efforts. While the Holmes Partnership® intended to accomplish a number of goals relevant to educational reform, one of its pioneering ambitions was to promote equity, diversity, and cultural competence within the profession. Consistent with this particular goal, the Holmes Partnership® developed a Holmes Scholar’s® program, through which individuals from traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups would be skillfully mentored to engage in innovative teacher preparation and to assume leadership positions in higher education. Approximately a decade after the first cohort of Holmes Scholars completed their doctoral degrees, an additional 400+ have followed suit!

A Not-for-Profit Organization

The National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni (NAHSA), established in 2001 as a unit operating with the Holmes Partnership®, aims to ensure the professional development, support, and mentorship of Holmes Scholars® and Holmes Scholars Alumni alike. In 2002, NAHSA became an independent, not-for-profit organization. The membership of NAHSA is composed primarily of Holmes Scholars® alumni working in various roles within the education profession worldwide. While the primary work of NAHSA is to development a mentoring network for Scholars and Alumni, NAHSA has also offered professional development programming to local school districts and seeks to shape the broader policy and political environment for the promotion of equity, diversity, inclusion, and excellence within the profession.

To Support and Strengthen

In the fall of 2006, NAHSA actualized its goal to support the development of culturally competent and socially conscious elementary, secondary, and higher education personnel by holding our first professional development conference for teachers in the Charleston County School District in cooperation with the College of Charleston’s School of Education, Health, and Human Performance. A second professional development conference followed, this time supporting local teachers and administrators.

NAHSA has continued to strengthen its efforts to mentor Holmes Scholars by providing workshops during the annual Holmes Scholars meetings. More recently NAHSA has collaborated with the American Educational Research Association (AERA) to offer mentoring sessions for both advanced level Holmes Scholars near the completion of their doctoral studies and for early career NAHSA faculty members. Participants were competitively selected and were afforded the opportunity to convene with nationally esteemed faculty in the field as well as AERA leaders. In addition, participants presented their research alongside Jackson Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Fellows.

In 2011, NAHSA entered into a formally articulated agreement with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) for the mentorship of Holmes Scholars. It is because of collaborative ties within the profession and our commitment to the ideas of equity, diversity, and inclusion, that we strongly support Holmes Scholars as future alumni and leaders within the profession.

Looking toward the Future

Looking toward the future, NAHSA will continue to provide mentorship for Holmes Scholars and our members. However, we are keenly aware of the struggles that faculty of underrepresented groups face within the tenure process. For this reason, we have decided to expand our supports by way of a venue open to all early career faculty, indiscriminate of their relationship with NAHSA.

Lastly, NAHSA looks forward to expanding on the work of the Urban and Equity Think Tank, which we acquired during the dissolution of the Holmes Partnership, in order to shape educational policy around important issues that align with our mission. We believe that the voices of underrepresented groups and collaborative efforts with like-minded organizations to improve educational opportunities for underrepresented groups must be shared. We believe that more attention toward advocacy is needed. We believe that the work we engage in is a vital step in the right direction to ensure equitable opportunities for P–20 learners, scholars, and for educational reform.