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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 Hafedh Azaiez, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

When Dr. Hafedh Azaiez became the superintendent in Donna ISD two years ago, the district had been through a lot. The previous superintendent had been forced out, and the school board was in disarray. But these challenges didn’t scare Azaiez away, and he got straight to work in changing things for the better.

“To say Dr. Hafedh Azaiez is an outstanding leader is an understatement,” says Sandra Quintanilla, Donna ISD’s public relations officer. “In the two short years that he has been the superintendent, which by the way is his first superintendent role in his academic career, the district has undergone major improvements in many levels across many departments.”

Azaiez kicked things off with a listening and learning tour, which helped to rebrand the entire district, changing public perception for the better. He also developed a five-year strategic plan for the district and expanded course offerings while streamlining business operations for maximum efficiency. More recently, he worked with the district to invest $5.7 million in providing technology to allow students and teachers to continue remote instruction during the COVID-19 crisis — a move that made him proud of everyone involved.

“Our teachers and staff came together and showed a lot of resilience to ensure that our students’ needs were met by providing distance learning and warm meals every day,” Azaiez says. “I am also proud of the new opportunities we were able to create and implement including our new Early College High School, two magnet schools, free full-day pre-K, and one-to-one devices for all our students.”

The work Azaiez has done in Donna shows his dedication to helping students in need, no matter the obstacles involved. “My personal philosophy is to always strive to go from good to great,” he says. “We should never stop creating more opportunities for all our students. I always enjoy dealing with challenges because I see them as opportunities to grow and make a difference.”

Collaboration and mentorship with other superintendents are important to Azaiez. He says open communication helps him and others to build their leadership capacity, which he sees as the key to maintaining success.

“It helps align all leaders behind a common vision and mission to achieve desired goals,” he says. “Coaching and sharing best practices will assist in developing the next generation of district leaders.”