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 Tim Harkrider, one of those Inspiring Leaders.
Now in his ninth year as superintendent of Willis ISD, Dr. Tim Harkrider leads the district with a growth mindset based on trust and transparency. Jamie Fails, Willis ISD communications director, says that Harkrider’s leadership has led to improvements in facilities, staff wellness, technology access, financial stability and student growth throughout the district.
“[Dr. Harkrider’s] drive to always push beyond the status quo has strengthened relationships both across the district and the community,” Fails says. She points to specific initiatives Harkrider has brought to Willis, such as improving instructional technology and innovation, a commitment to professional learning communities and strengthening teacher teams through the collaborative process.
In the last five years, Willis ISD has added a career and technology center, an agricultural center and a performing arts center, doubling the opportunities offered to its students. Harkrider says he is proud of these achievements and works hard each day to lead by example to show staff and students that no challenge is insurmountable.
“Being visible and accessible is important for me — to be in touch with my staff and provide the proper guidance and motivation to push through difficult times,” he says. “We live in a very challenging time period, and our students are watching how we handle stress and difficult times. I try to provide an example that nothing is too big for us to accomplish as a team, and we can overcome anything thrown at us.”
Fails says that Harkrider’s efforts in this area are palpable in the district, especially among staff.
“We appreciate Dr. Harkrider’s commitment to continue being the best person to lead our district,” Fails says. “He is a visionary leader who will not only lead our district through continued growth, but who will also positively impact education throughout his career.”
Harkrider credits networking with other administrators with helping him feel connected while serving in what can be a solitary position. As an experienced administrator at many levels, he is happy to mentor others to provide that same level of support.
“I view mentoring our administrators as one of my most important responsibilities,” he says. “I have led campuses at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, so I understand the demands of each area. I can provide guidance based on my experience, or I can just provide a platform to listen so they understand their challenges are normal and part of their job. I think the mentorship provides a level of trust that is imperative to our organization being successful, because we are all working together for the benefit of our students, teachers and our community.”MEET MORE INSPIRING LEADERS