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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 Travis Fanning, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

In 2020, Travis Fanning stepped into the superintendency in Beeville ISD, a Coastal Bend area district that serves more than 3,200 students, 88% of whom are considered economically disadvantaged. Since he took the helm, the district has seen academic performance improve, achieving a “B” rating from the state, something that makes him proud of the staff, students and entire Beeville ISD community.

“This is huge for our district and community,” Fanning says. “We worked hard to get to this place, and we did so by focusing on student growth. Our success was made possible by the support of our board of trustees and community, in conjunction with buy-in from our students and staff. We are not a perfect district, but we are making exceptional progress daily.”

Dr. Tiffany Spicer, formerly chief of staff in Beeville ISD and now the superintendent of Buna ISD, says since Fanning came to the Beeville, he has poured his heart, time and talent into providing access and opportunities to all students. It’s an effort she says is palpable.

“He has a saying that, ‘Beeville ISD is the best kept secret in South Texas,’” Spicer says of Fanning. “He also says that we are not a secret anymore. Since his tenure the district has been placed on the map.”

Under the weight of the many challenges that come with leadership, Fanning says he keeps his head up through faith, grace and gratitude.

“I believe in the power of positive thinking and a growth mindset. It fuels me. I start my day with a prayer and a positive attitude. I try to work from that place throughout the day.”

Fanning also finds drive in the challenges.

“It may be a bit weird, but I thrive in stressful situations,” he says. “I think that is probably a common trait in all superintendents.”

Throughout his career in education, which stretches more than 20 years, Fanning says he has reaped the benefits of strong mentorships. Now he makes it a habit to turn around and offer the same support to others — some- thing he says still benefits him in return.

“As I seek to lift and inspire other administrators, I learn greatly from them. It is undoubtedly a give-and-take relationship. Leadership can seem scary and lonely when you think of the weight and burden that the position requires you to carry. Serving as a mentor allows you the opportunity to reassure them, help them focus, guide them to reflect, and encourage them to know that they are prepared to lead.”