Trustee Spotlight: Trish Bode

School Board Member Visits for Appreciation Month



Anchor junior Evan Vines sits with Place 1 trustee, Trish Bode, while filming the The Wolfcast on Jan. 17.

Deana Trautz, Editor-in-Chief

She has two cats named Zane and Zoë, a daughter that just started driving and a son who is in love with Beyblade. Although Trish Bode is similar in many ways to other community members, she is one of just seven members of the Leander ISD Board of Trustees who make decisions to better the lives of LISD students.

With January being School Board Appreciation Month, Bode, Place 1 and secretary of the school board, was able to visit CPHS on Jan. 17 to check out several programs and even guest star on The Wolfcast. Bode said that she always enjoys getting opportunities like these to spend time with students and faculty.

“I would love to see us be able to get to talk to you guys more,” Bode said. “When we do School Board Appreciation, I love that, because my job is just to come here, support you guys and find out what you need.”

Among their many responsibilities, Board members read legislation, respond to emails from the community and attend bimonthly Board meetings that can range between one and five hours long. Despite all of the hours that trustees devote to their job, they are elected only on a volunteer basis and are unpaid. Bode said that even with this fact, she feels that her job is worthwhile. 

“I get to transform 40,000 students’ lives, I get to make a difference, and that is the coolest thing,” Bode said. “I get to really impact my community at what I think is the most important level.”

Before Bode knew that she wanted to run for a place on the Board, she was enrolled at Texas State University, where she earned her master’s in communication studies. In college, Bode said that she did not begin finding her direction until she joined debate, which ultimately led to her becoming the student body president.

Once she graduated and had two kids in LISD, she said that her passion for making change began shaping itself.

“I knew I wanted to make a difference for students, but I didn’t know where that path was going to lead,” Bode said. “When my kids joined the system and I [became] a part of it, I saw my community and [wanted to make it better]. I was ready for whatever path that was.”

Her children’s activities led Bode to become involved with camps, swim and dance boards and the PTA, which she said especially sparked her interest in legislation.

“I got really involved in our education legislation and how it was impacting our schools and students,” Bode said. “Then, I was the PTA legislative action chair, so my job was to convey to parents what was happening at a legislative level. I realized I could do this on a bigger scale, so I took a leap.”

This leap meant that in 2015, Bode would begin campaigning for a place on the Board. She put signs up around town, did block walks to talk with families and stood at polling places on and before election day so she could be accessible to voters. Bode said that a difficult part about campaigning was explaining to people that trustees are non-partisan, meaning that they are not affiliated with any political party.

“If you vote a straight ticket, you didn’t vote for your trustees,” Bode said. “The deal is, we are not a party, we are here for the students first. I love that sentiment, and I hope it’s a reality. I think we carry it through on the ballot that way.”

Bode was elected into Place 1 on the Board and began taking on secretary responsibilities like signing and reviewing documents, minutes, contracts and bonds. Since she started on the board, and got re-elected for a second term in 2018, Bode has only missed two school board meetings—one because of training, and the other because she was in Hawaii, where she paused her vacation to participate via live feed during the meeting.

The Board decides items such as changes in the academic calendar and renovations, including the construction happening outside of the science building. Although some of the items that they vote on are not as noticeable as construction is, Bode said that it is still vital that they do the governance of the district.

We are trying to make sure that every student knows they have a place, and every student can see their academic future.

— Trish Bode, Place 1

“There is not always that exciting moment,” Bode said. “There are some that are just housekeeping and we do those pieces too, to get to the really cool moments as well, because it all adds up.”

With LISD continuously growing, nine new schools are needed between 2019 and 2026, according to a column by the superintendent on growth forecast. As new residents and students enter the district, Bode said that the Board has a few main goals.

“We are trying to make sure that every student knows they have a place, and every student can see their academic future,” Bode said. “If we can get y’all excited and give you the tools you need, then you are going to transform the world, and I think that Leander students are extra special.”

The Board being volunteer-based, unpaid and non-partisan are rooted in their intention to serve LISD. Students and parents have several opportunities to express to the board any concerns they have. To contact the superintendent and each Board member at once, there is a governance email that people can reach out to, or there is the option to email them individually. Also, there is a designated Citizens Comments period at around 7 p.m. at every meeting. The next Board meeting is on Feb. 7 and can be found on their calendar.

“If there is something students want, or something they want us to be aware of, I hope they reach out, I hope they know how to find us,” Bode said.

Bode said that there is a process of replying to emails, so she hopes that people understand that change often does not come immediately. However, she said that every conversation with LISD residents and students is a crucial part of making change and understanding how they can best serve their district.

“Your information is important because it is part of the puzzle,” Bode said. “People think that they will go up and speak, but if they don’t change the government right away, they guess it was no good. No, you still made an impact, it was still part of the puzzle and your voices are critical. Students have a voice and I think they are doing a great job.”