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 Deann Lee, one of those Inspiring Leaders.
Four years ago, Deann Lee was named superintendent of Millsap ISD. With more than 30 years of education experience, Lee has worked to foster many new programs in the district, including a teacher mentoring program, instructional technology and a strategic planning initiative. Above all, what makes her most proud of Millsap is the district’s reputation for being a community that values relationships and aims for ethical behavior and personal responsibility.
“Our culture is defined by our mission, vision and values,” Lee says. “These aren’t words on a wall. They drive our goals, determine our hires, and lead our decisions.”
Gunter ISD Superintendent Jill Siler says that watching the way Lee leads has had a positive impact on her, and she’s quick to sing her peer’s praises.
“Deann Lee’s school district may be small, but her impact on leaders across our state is huge,” Siler says. “She is an encourager and a constant source of hope and optimism during challenging seasons.”
Lee’s encouragement helps nurture a family atmosphere in the district, and she credits her strong sense of purpose for keeping her on track in challenging times.
“The philosophy that keeps me going is that I am called to serve at this moment in time for a specific purpose,” Lee says. “When I am challenged or stressed, I remember that my decision will affect my students’ futures. This is a remarkable (and scary) privilege that fuels my passion to give every ounce of energy I have daily.”
That passion extends to participating in networking and mentorship opportunities, as Lee has seen first-hand the difference strong peer relationships can have in her own work and beyond.
“As leaders, it’s our responsibility to build systems that will continue to propel our districts far beyond our tenure,” she says. “It’s also our honor to perpetuate a culture of service by growing others through the knowledge we have gained from the experiences of our journey. The benefit of these relationships is that we collectively become stronger for the welfare of our world, and we have the joy of sharing life with kindred spirits.”