Q&A with Trustee Leanne Haynes
Today, we’re catching up with board member Leanne Haynes. The Arlington ISD parent is one of our new board members, having been elected last May.
Has your first year as a board member been what you thought it would be like?
It has been so much more than what I thought it would be like in extremely rewarding ways, in some challenging ways, but overall, it has exceeded my expectations. There’s been a bit more of a learning curve. It’s like drinking from a fire hose for the first several months. Recently, within the last month to two months, I have started to feel comfortable. I know what’s coming. I hope that doesn’t change.
Do you think there’s anything that could have prepared you?
I think I was as prepared as an involved citizen as I could be. I don’t think there was anything else I could do there besides potentially serving longer on committees. It was finding the adjustments in my work-life balance, finding the adjustment as a full-time working mom whose husband travels every week and juggling the important responsibilities that I was elected to do. How do I do that? How do I do that well? My family hit a rhythm right before Christmas. Until something else happens, I think I finally figured out what’s expected of me as a trustee. I think that’s a big part of the piece. I knew the work that we do, but the expectation of where you fit into that work and what do we have our hands in and what don’t we have our hands in. Understanding that once you’re in the seat makes it easier to navigate your life in that role.
When you started as a trustee you thought the superintendent choice was made. How much of an adjustment was that in coming into what you thought was a settled situation to having a role in the decision?
That nice little pivot played a large piece in the job being way more than I anticipated it being when I stepped into it. I am so thankful that the previous candidate changed her mind and that I got to be part of the selection process. There are a lot of trustees that don’t get to do that. It was extremely rewarding, and I think it was a nice confidence boost that I and the other new trustees needed. We needed that. We needed something that we felt like we could walk away from and think that we did that. We actively contributed. We were equipped with the knowledge and skills, and we did that. It was awesome.
The theme for the month is “locally elected, community connected.” How important is community support to you?
It’s everything. The community got me elected in the role and entrusted me with the responsibility of serving. I don’t believe our district would function efficiently without the support of the community, without our stakeholders who are actively involved and contributing daily to the success of our students and teachers and admin and to the success of the trustees. The community feedback, the community dialogue, that’s essential for me to doing my job well. Community is everything in this job.
Your favorite part of the job is…..?
It’s probably a tie. Graduations are incredible. We don’t get paid as trustees, but as close to getting some sort of compensation is sitting on the stage watching the students graduate with as close of a view as you can get is powerful. Any time I get to go on a campus – I’m a PTA mom at heart – so I love going on the campuses. I love reading to the kids. I love helping where I can. My kids are older, so I don’t get to do that on campuses. When schools invite me and I get to come help or visit or hang out, I love doing that.