When Jason Sullivan resigned his position on the Trousdale County School Board this spring, he left a District C opening in today’s local election.
Sullivan completed his last day on the school board on May 20, which left time for a special qualifying period for candidates to throw their hats into the ring for his vacated seat.
Candidates Deanna Bode and Kayla Ring both qualified to run for the District C seat during the special qualifying period. The winner will complete the final two years of Sullivan’s four-year term. Both candidates vying for the seat say that they have a vested interest in the Trousdale County School District, as both are mothers of school-aged children.
“I have kids in school,” said Bode. “I have two grandchildren that will someday go to Trousdale County schools. I now have three children that have graduated and three children in school. So, I definitely have a vested interest in what goes on in Trousdale County for the long-term.”
With experience in education, Bode is quite familiar with the school system.
“My job is education,” said Bode. “I have 20-plus years in education. I spent some time teaching in Sumner County, but I spent the bulk of my time in Trousdale County. I taught fourth grade. I also was the assistant principal at the elementary school for six years. I come from the third generation of Trousdale County educators. My grandmother was a fifth-grade teacher for many years. My father was the assistant principal at the high school for 20-plus years, and my mother was a kindergarten teacher. So, Trousdale County education has my heart for sure.”
Although not currently working in Trousdale County, Bode still works with school districts throughout the state.
“I work for a non-profit consulting company that works with school districts all over the state,” said Bode.
“It has given me a perspective as to how other school districts are structured and what their instructional components look like. It has given me a great appreciation as to what we have going on in Trousdale County.”
But for Bode, retaining great teachers and school safety are her top concerns.
“If we want to have a great school system, it starts with great teachers,” said Bode. “I feel like the school board in the past has really put towards policies that have helped our school system to hire and retain great teachers.
“Safety is also an important concern. You can’t have a quality education system if you’re concerned about safety.”
However, Ring, who is rivaling Bode for the school-board seat, knows that monetary considerations are also important to any school system.
“I have been in the banking industry going on 15 years,” said Ring. “(Finances) are a very important part. I have sat through many school-board meetings where they were discussing the teachers and staff and their income and how that process works.”
And with her understanding of financial matters, Ring is certain that her banking experience as an assistant vice president will be helpful to both the school board and her district.
“I think what I do for a living in that regard can certainly play a helpful role,” said Ring. “That’s what I do all day. I look at numbers and income and debt to income.”
However, what Ring feels that she brings to the table goes deeper than just her work experience.
“One of the main reasons I’m running is that our family is in Trousdale County ... that’s where we are rooted,” said Ring. “My husband is from Trousdale County. I am originally from Wilson County, born and raised in Lebanon. When we had our son, we knew we wanted to make our way back to Trousdale County. I wanted my son to be able to have the same experience that my husband had growing up in a small town.”
Although family is at the top of her list of reasons for seeking election to the school board, Ring has other reasons as well.
“(Another) big reason I wanted to run is that I was attending the school-board meetings and work sessions and was often attending by myself,” said Ring. “There were no other parents there.
“At the meetings, I was doing a lot of learning ... how the school board works, how the school system works, the whole process. Even though I have not been in the world of education, I like to be educated, and I was essentially a sponge. I quickly learned how important the school board really is. If you have questions or problems, there is someone there to support you in your district. That was all new to me.”
Because Trousdale County has experienced growth, Ring wants to help the schools and newcomers to the area bridge any gaps that may exist.
“I became pretty passionate about wanting to do what I could, to not only help the schools, but to bridge gaps that might exist for anyone coming into the county,” said Ring.“This county is really growing. To me, the school board bridges the schools with the community.”
For Ring, a large part of bridging the gaps for her district means communicating.
“I really want people to come talk to me and me to be able to reach out to them and help their voices be heard in things they might be concerned about,” said Ring.
“I think every concern needs to be heard, whether it comes from staff or students or parents.”
The District C school board race will be decided after the polls close at 7 this evening.