Dr. Elizabeth Fagen
Humble ISD Superintendent
Teacher. Leader. Parent. Those three words characterize Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, who joined Humble ISD in July 2016 as Superintendent.
Born and raised in Iowa, Dr. Fagen was the daughter of a public school educator. Naturally, she spent many evenings and weekends with her mother at school events. “Education is something that is a part of who I am, and really always have been,” Dr. Fagen said.
Despite positive experiences as an educator’s daughter, Dr. Fagen did not initially plan to be a teacher. She thought she wanted to work in medicine. An unexpected job opportunity from a university dean to teach a college biology lab changed her life forever.
“At the time, I was a Pizza Hut waitress, so I was super excited about the idea that I would get paid to teach,” Dr. Fagen said. “Once I actually taught, I realized that education is in my heart. It’s in my soul. It’s who I am. It’s what I wanted to do, and I immediately switched to be an education major.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree from William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and her doctoral and master’s degrees and her education specialist degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
She spent the first 12 years of her career in Iowa. Beginning as a high school biology and chemistry teacher, she progressed into positions as associate principal, principal, and executive director of high schools. Ultimately in Iowa, she became Associate Superintendent of Des Moines Independent School District.
Dr. Fagen then spent the next 8 years of her career as a Superintendent, serving the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona and the Douglas County School District in Colorado. Each position strengthened her understanding of meeting student needs.
“I’ve worked in the very poorest county in Iowa. I’ve worked in Douglas County, which is one of the most affluent counties in Colorado,” Dr. Fagen said. “I’ve had a really wide experience – urban, suburban, rural, and all of those have really helped me learn and grow as a teacher, and as a leader also.”
In 2016, Humble ISD’s reputation for outstanding schools that serve the whole child attracted her to the district. She and her husband Matt, an engineer, have two school-age daughters. They loved the Lake Houston Area and its longstanding reputation for supporting education.
“I am not only an educator and a superintendent, but also the parent of children in my own district,” Dr. Fagen said. “That’s very important to me. I feel like being a parent has made me a much better teacher and leader.”
As a leader, Dr. Fagen believes each community is unique and that is why her top priority as Humble ISD’s new Superintendent is to listen, learn and build relationships. “I don’t come to the table saying “Hey I’m here. I’ve got all the answers. Let’s get started doing the stuff I want,” Dr. Fagen said. “ I just don’t think that’s leadership. I equate it to the way we work with children. Children are unique. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach that works for every single child, and I feel the same way about my role and my position. ”