Q&A with Board President Melody Fowler
January is School Board Recognition Month, and this year’s theme is Forward, Together. The Arlington ISD has been moving forward together thanks in part to our board. We appreciate our school board members, so we’re catching up with them this month to find out about their lives and why they serve.
Next up is Melody Fowler, who became our school board president in 2022 and has been on the board since 2018.
What’s the biggest difference in being a school board member and being the president?
There’s definitely more responsibility. I am basically involved in all aspects of the workings of the board. Dr. Cavazos and I meet regularly so I can keep apprised of happenings in the district. I am responsible for running the board meetings, which includes keeping the pace to ensure our meetings are efficient and mindful of everyone’s’ time, making sure that trustees’ questions are answered and they have all necessary information they need in order to make informed decisions. I keep apprised of the progress on all committees (Community Engagement, which includes FFC and Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, Board Governance, Audit Committee and Finance Committee). I also respond to parents’ emails and phone calls. They are often surprised that I do respond, always in a timely manner, and that I return their phone calls. I want to make sure they know that Arlington ISD hears them and strives to solve any issues they may be having. I am invited to speak at many community events. I love being out in the community sharing all the many great things going on in Arlington ISD. Also, as president I am a member of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee which meets monthly. There are so many more things I could talk about! I truly love serving as board president and it is a pleasure to represent the board of trustees and our district.
What’s something that people don’t know about being on the school board?
I am not sure that people know how much Dr. Cavazos and the trustees do for our district. So much goes on behind the scenes that the community is unaware of. Serving on the board requires hours and hours of time reading and gathering information; talking with teachers, staff, students and parents; attending community events; attending committee meetings, attending school board trustee trainings and attending as many school activities as possible, and remember, we receive invitations from all schools for all activities. We do it because of our love for the district and our outstanding students. Attending activities and seeing our students excel is truly one of the highlights of serving on the board. Every board member serves because he/she has a strong desire to see every student within the Arlington ISD succeed.
Is being a board member more work than you thought?
Yes. There’s so much I was not aware of. Before I decided to run, I talked with all the current board members and past board members. Having them tell you the workings of the board and the preparations you must do gives you an idea, but until you’re there and going through it you don’t realize all the things the board is involved in. That’s not a negative. Until you’re on the board, you just don’t really understand the commitments.
You were super involved with the Arlington ISD when your son was in school. Did that make it easier or harder being on the board because so many people know you?
Having been so involved in Arlington ISD as a parent and now serving on the board has been interesting. I do believe that having served on PTA boards, Site Based Decision Making teams and various committees has served me well in my role as a board member. I have a much better understanding of the needs of students and faculty and the workings of the schools. Through my service, I have been blessed to get to know so many people within our district and community. I do occasionally get questions and concerns, which I am happy that people feel comfortable to contact me. I appreciate their understanding that sometimes I can answer their questions, but sometimes as a board member, I am not at liberty to share information.
Is it weird to always have to be ‘on’ in the community?
You really do. You have community members that depend on you to listen to them. Parents and teachers, too. Everyone expects you to be on and be at your best and give your all. We’re human and everyone has off days. You really have to put everything personal off to the side so you can fully dedicate yourself to the needs of the Arlington ISD and the community. We try our best to be always on. That’s something we all do really well I think. I really admire our trustees for being able to set aside their personal business and personal issues and really be positive and a good role model for others and make the community proud.
What do you think has been the biggest challenge coming out of COVID?
The delayed learning. It’s been so hard academically and socially for students to get back in the swing of things. They were at home for almost a year and half. They lost the skill of interacting with a teacher and fellow classmates. That’s something that I really hope we can get back to. It was so hard on teachers to try and do virtual teaching. I know how hard it was for students to do virtual learning. It’s getting better now. Students got in a habit of not really being engaged. There is nothing to compare to face-to-face learning and being in a classroom with your peers and interacting. All students are a little behind. That’s been the biggest challenge – academics and the social aspect.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
I am looking forward to seeing our new campuses open and renovations to many of our buildings. I am excited to see the accomplishments of our students. I look forward to seeing all the innovative ideas our teachers will come up with. Arlington ISD is a district of innovation and opportunity. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Arlington ISD.