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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 Jeni Neatherlin, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

Jeni Neatherlin became superintendent of Granger ISD last year, and has since led the district through not only a pandemic, but also a highly destructive tornado that destroyed many homes in the community. Through her work, she has become noticed by her peers, such as Taylor ISD Superintendent Devin Padavil, who says Neatherlin is a “positive and focused leader who treats each child as if they are her own.”

“I have always been impressed by Ms. Neatherlin’s ability to take on tasks under difficult circumstances,” Padavil says. “I think this says a lot about her and her ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Truly, Jeni has a desire to make a difference, not only in the lives of children, but in the lives of the child’s community.”

Neatherlin says she is exceptionally proud of how the local community responded to the tornado and its aftermath.

“I am so proud of how we responded as a district and as a community. We had collections and cleanups. On clean-up days, our admin team and board members were at different locations and were bragging about who had the best clean-up crew. The concept of ‘love thy neighbor’ was seen over and over again. Leaders were leading, and we saw the need and met the need.”

When challenges arise, Neatherlin keeps strong by reminding herself that leadership roles are often accompanied by setbacks, and that she is not alone in her struggles.

“Adversity is not the enemy,” she says. “We grow from those situations and I try to come at it with the perspective that any problems are happening for me rather than to me. I love Dr. LaTonya Goffney’s reminder, too, when she tells leaders, ‘You prayed for this.’ Yes, I did.”

Neatherlin says one of the highlights of her career is watching the people she works with achieve and be promoted to higher levels of leadership. For her, mentorship is all about leaders helping other leaders reach their goals.

“It’s so important to build these relationships because we need each other. Every connection, every collaboration pays off dividends in time, well-being and job performance.”