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TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development; it describes our members themselves — school leaders who inspire others as they work to prepare future-ready students. Meet Dana Barnes, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

Dana Barnes is deputy superintendent of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, where she has worked since 2009 in multiple leadership roles. Barnes’ colleagues see her as an inspiring, supportive, and dedicated leader and say her impact on the district has been immeasurable.

“First and foremost, Dr. Barnes consistently demonstrates unwavering support for her staff,” says Kathleen Eckert, director of compliance and policy in EMSISD. “She understands the importance of work-life balance and encourages her employees to prioritize themselves and their families. This empathetic approach fosters a positive and healthy work environment, enabling her team to thrive both personally and professionally. By recognizing the value of their well-being, she cultivates a culture of compassion and understanding that resonates throughout the district.”

Barnes says she is proud of the district, especially in the way EMSISD staff comes together to help each other whenever possible.

“Our campuses are our priorities. If there is a need, all departments come together to assist, which includes subbing in a classroom, providing volunteer organizations to help take allowable work off of a teacher, helping with lunch duty, etc. There is no job we will not do for each other.”

Eckert says Barnes genuinely appreciates her staff and works to find meaningful ways to show her gratitude for their hard work.

“She ensures that her team feels valued and motivated to continue their exceptional work,” Eckert says. “This thoughtful and considerate approach strengthens the bond between Dr. Barnes and her staff, fostering a sense of loyalty, trust, and dedication.”

Working in public education can be challenging, but Barnes says knowing how crucial schools are to society is the force that keeps her going when things get tough.

“I refuse for public education and the importance of neighborhood schools to be destroyed; the education profession to be dishonored; or the intentional actions of our legislation to use children as puppets for individual gains,” she says. “Our students across the state deserve to go to their community schools, be provided with choices at every school and not by a lottery and have teachers who feel appreciated and shown their value financially and publicly.”

Among EMSISD staff, Barnes is recognized as an exceptional listener. She actively tries to understand their perspectives and gives value to their concerns and ideas. For Eckert, this is just one of the many qualities that singles Barnes out as an inspiring leader.

“By actively seeking staff input and valuing their opinions, Dr. Barnes creates a collaborative and inclusive environment where every voice is heard and respected,” Eckert says. “This approach not only enhances the decisionmaking process but also empowers her team, making them feel valued and encouraging them to contribute their best ideas.”

Mentorship is a key component of success for Barnes, and she says networking with others in the field benefits the entire education system as a whole. “None of us can do our jobs alone anymore. Society is different. Education is the microcosm of society. When society is stressed, we see the impact within our buildings. We know the only way to achieve our mission is to help anyone in need, when they need it. We are all teachers, and it takes all of us to ensure our students’ success.”

If you’d like to nominate an Inspiring Leader, email drivers@texasschoolbusiness.com.

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