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 Monica Simmons, one of those Inspiring Leaders.
In Elysian Fields ISD, Monica Simmons has served as superintendent since April 2022. Before taking that position, Simmons worked in the district for a total of 19 years as a teacher and administrator. As superintendent, Simmons has a passion for learning and is dedicated to supporting staff and students so that they can meet their potential.
“Mrs. Simmons believes in public education, and most importantly, Mrs. Simmons believes in success for all students and for all staff,” says Martha Lovaasen, principal at Elysian Fields Middle School. “Her goals center around leading by example, leading with the very best for all students and staff.”
To Simmons, Elysian Fields is the best little school district in Texas, and she is proud of how everyone works together to put students’ needs first.
“The support for each other and our tight family atmosphere through good times and bad times are what make it a truly magical place,” she says. “Though we have had lots of change the last few years, everyone has embraced it well and supported each other. We are three campuses, yet we are one district, and one team wanting the same outcome: student success.”
Being an inspiring leader means stepping up when things become challenging, and leading a team by example, with confidence and compassion. Lovaasen says Simmons does this with aplomb.
“Mrs. Simmons has had to lead us through some of the most difficult times any family, educator or student could possibly face. She has shown grace under pressure and stepped up to take the lead and give guidance and comfort and establish a sense of stability when our whole world was off balance. Mrs. Simmons knows that leading a school and a community through hard, difficult times is a marathon, not a sprint. She’s in it for the long haul.”
Simmons says that knowing the decisions she makes every day will have an immediate and significant impact on students’ lives keeps her going on her toughest days.
“Our students give me purpose to push through, because I know they are depending on me,” she says. “My students and staff motivate me to continue the work we have started, and each day I am motivated to do a little more and little better. I want to be a child’s champion, and I want students to know that they can be anything they want to be.”
In EFISD, Simmons’ dedication inspires those around her. She encourages hard work among staff and students alike, while encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones to achieve their dreams.
“Monica Simmons is an inspirational leader because she not only leads with the strength and will to do the hard stuff, but she also leads with a heart full of love for our school family and community,” Lovaasen says. “She has big dreams for Elysian Fields ISD, and the energy and drive to make them happen. A leader shows their true heart and leadership style when things get hard, difficult or unpleasant. It’s easy to lead the way when the waters are calm; when a storm blows in, you see the true leadership skills emerge in someone.”
For Simmons, maintaining relationships with other administrators is a key part of her job, as she believes they are all able to learn from each other in a way that helps them grow their careers and achieve their best in the work that they do.
“I know I do not have all the answers,” she says. “I trust my mentor/coach to challenge my thinking so that I can become better at solving problems. I want to be the best educator I can be, so I am always open to strategies and constructive feedback. Sometimes the truth hurts, but to grow and be the best for our students we have to be open to listening.”
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