From implementing two magnet schools to launching a full-day Pre-K 3 and 4 programs to creating an Early College High School, Dr. Hafedh Azaiez has had a profound impact across the Donna Independent School District.

Since taking office as superintendent in July 2018, Azaiez has reshaped the district, bringing with it new beginnings, new milestones and a new outlook on the future.

Other Initiatives and improvements under Azaiez’s leadership include:

  • a new brand and logo,
  • an 8% increase in the district’s overall academic performance,
  • a “Superior” financial accounting rating,
  • Thirteen additional Career and Technical Education programs,
  • Seven additional high school credit courses offered at the middle school level,
  • a district-wide College and Career Fair,
  • a Superintendent’s Student Scholarship Golf Tournament,
  • a five-year strategic plan,
  • laptops for every teacher, Chromebooks for middle schools and iPads for elementary schools
  • the streamlining of business operations

It is for these reasons and more that Azaiez was chosen as a recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Educator of the Year Award by Sam Houston State University’s College of Education, where he earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

According to the College of Education, the award is the highest honor the college bestows upon its alumni. This year, more than 100 outstanding nominations were submitted making Azaiez’ selection even more significant. The award was presented March 7 during a ceremony on campus.

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Pictured left to right are honorees: Friend of Education: Ms. Michelle Spencer, Chief Executive Officer Boys and Girls Club, Walker County; Distinguished Educator: Dr. Tommy Hooker, Superintendent, Thrall ISD; Distinguished Educator: Dr. Jenny McGown, Superintendent, Klein ISD; Distinguished Educator: Dr. Veronica Vijil, Superintendent, Fabens ISD; Distinguished Educator: Dr. Hafedh Azaiez, Superintendent, Donna ISD; Dr. Stacey Edmonson, Dean of the College of Education at Sam Houston State University.

Colleagues commended Azaiez for receiving the prestigious honor.

“Donna is a district with a lot of talent, a lot of great students, but it’s a district that had been struggling for many years,” Daniel King, retired PSJA Superintendent said. “Dr. Azaiez has been able to stabilize the district in a remarkably short time. In all honesty, it’s hard to believe that he has been at Donna ISD for only a year and a half. He has made remarkable progress. He truly cares, he’s knowledgeable, he’s skilled, he’s a thinker, he plans, and he looks for the best ideas out there that can benefit students, faculty and the entire team.”

“Dr. Azaiez is an amazing leader,” Deborah Medrano, Donna’s Early College High School Principal said. “He’s a true visionary who really has the best interest of our students in mind. Through his leadership, our district has seen some tremendous growth. He has been at the forefront of providing our students opportunities that they had never had before. For example, in the Early College High School, students will not only be able to earn a high school diploma, but they’ll also be able to earn up to 60 college credit hours or up to an associate’s degree at no cost to the students, at no cost to parents.”

“You wouldn’t know that he’s not from here,” Kristin Keith, Donna North High School teacher said. “He’s embraced all the things that Donna ISD encompasses from day one and he has done a fantastic job of being open and supportive. He listens to what the students have to say, to what the teachers have to say, to what the principals have to say. He also does the same for the community members, the parents and people who this district is so important to. I love that about him. It’s a testament to his character.”

Donna North High School student Andrew Mireles said Azaiez always puts students first. “Dr. AZ is a very caring individual,” Mireles said. “He cares about everyone’s opinions and whenever he makes a decision, he puts everyone’s perspective in mind. What makes him different from previous superintendents is that he actually holds meetings with both Donna North and Donna High student councils to talk about any innovations or improvements needed for the district. He doesn’t just listen, he makes things happen.”