Principal Channels Passion for Education
Life has a funny way of putting you exactly where you need to be. For Hafedh Azaiez, a 2008 graduate from the Master of Education program and 2007 HISD secondary teacher of the year, life took him from Tunisia, where he was born and raised, to Houston, where he discovered his love, passion and exceptional skill in teaching.
Azaiez’s foray into education occurred shortly after he and his wife moved to Houston from New York City, where he had earned a master’s degree in geophysics from City College of New York.
“I moved here expecting to get a job in oil and gas, but there was a job fair for teachers, and I thought I should at least get something started,” Azaiez said. “I started working as a teacher, thinking I would eventually make the transition into oil and gas.”
That transition didn’t happen.
Instead, Azaiez enrolled at St. Thomas to earn his Master of Education. Here, he was able to network and collaborate with fellow Houston Independent School District teachers and learn from the real life experience that professors such as Dr. Robert LeBlanc offered.
“I tell people all the time that St. Thomas was a great experience,” Azaiez said. “I liked that we were part of a cohort, a small group moving from one class to the next. There were a lot of great professors who had a lot of experience in the classroom. When you are teaching teachers, real life experiences just hit home and it makes everything easier to understand.”
The education brought tangible results when, as an assistant principal at Johnson Middle school, Azaiez helped elevate the school from an acceptable Texas Education Agency ranking to an exemplary campus in three years.
Today, Azaiez is fully immersed in education. As the principal at Paul Revere Middle School, he has helped transform the school into one of the city’s leading Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, magnate schools. The school now offers more high school credit courses than any other middle school in the school district. Outside of academics the school offers wrestling and is well on its way to starting the Chuck Norris Kick Start Kids karate program.
“As a teacher I learned to bring students different opportunities,” Azaiez said. “If you give the kids choices, hopefully one of those choices will get the kids hooked and make the kids want to come to school everyday.”
His goal is to engage the students and provide them with a well-rounded education, something he has been promoting since he began teaching.
“It makes me very happy to see kids enjoy coming to school,” Azaiez said. “I want the same thing for my own children. I don’t want them to just get worksheets and study for standardized tests; I want them to have options, exposure and a well-rounded education. That is what we are trying to do here.”
Because of his success in elevating the level of education at Johnson Middle School and Revere Middle School, Azaiez has been named an HISD lead principal, giving him the opportunity to teach other principals some of the strategies and leadership skills that helped him achieve success.
“I am hoping that I can help impact other schools and campuses,” Azaiez said. “I have no intention of leaving Revere. I think we are on the right track and still have a lot more that we can do.”
The Master of Education Program at the University of St. Thomas is designed to develop master classroom teachers, instructional specialists and school leaders who demonstrate the ability to translate and apply educational research in instructional settings.
For more information on the Master of Education program, attend a School of Education open house.