During a special board meeting on August 1, 2016, members of the MISD Board of Trustees voted to name Rod Schroder as the Interim Superintendent of Midland ISD. Schroder began his career at Amarillo ISD as teacher and coach at Sam Houston Middle School, then a junior high, and Amarillo High School. Before beginning his position as superintendent in 2000, he served in administrative roles that include assistant athletic director, secondary personnel director and assistant superintendent of personnel. Schroder retired from Amarillo ISD in 2015, following 42 years with the district and 15 years as Superintendent.
Schroder has served as president of the Texas School Alliance, on committees with the Texas Association of School Administrators and on the Board of Directors for the Texas Business and Education Coalition. In 2014, Region 16 named Schroder Superintendent of the Year.
2015 MAN OF THE YEAR: Rod Schroder's guidance kept AISD focused on mission
Posted: December 31, 2015 – Amarillo Globe News – Amarillo.com
By JON MARK BEILUE
When describing Rod Schroder, it doesn’t take long for friends Jim Austin and Rick Trafton to recall scriptures from the Bible. For Austin, former president and 13- year member of the Amarillo School Board of Trustees, it’s from the New Testament, James 3:17. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Trafton, associate pastor at Messiah’s House, has been Schroder’s close friend for about 10 years. Not prompted, Trafton selected the Old Testament, Proverbs 24:35. “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures; a wise man has great power and a man of knowledge increases strength.”
The common theme is wisdom and quiet strength, wise counsel and patience. To them, that fits Schroder, who retired in August as superintendent of Amarillo Independent School District. “He never took his eyes off the mission,” Austin said, “and the mission was to provide lifechanging educational experiences for each child. He was truly committed to that. Every decision he made was washed in this: ‘Is this a fit to the mission or not?’”
Schroder, who spent 42 years at AISD, the last 15 as superintendent, is the 2015 Amarillo GlobeNews Man of the Year. He built his accomplishments, some might say his legacy, carefully, brick by brick, never looking too far in the future. “He believes in doing the best he can do today and doing what God called him to do and to take that one day and then one year at a time,” said Suzanne, his wife of 42 years.
“He always had a one-year contract with AISD, but that’s how he lived his life. Look at today and do what you think God wants you to do today.” Schroder started as a teacher and coach at Sam Houston Junior High in the early 1970s. He eventually led a school district of 32,000 students and 55 schools through the challenging times of state and federal accountability testing, and he skillfully maneuvered through the difficulties of school finance.
After 42 years, he left in August, and the AISD board renamed the Education Support Center. It’s now The Rod Schroder Education Support Center. As consuming as that mandate can be, Schroder still found time to help the community in roles as co-chairman of the United Way of Amarillo & Canyon campaign, board member of the Amarillo Area Foundation, founder and board member of Panhandle Twenty/20, and deacon and then elder at Paramount Baptist Church and now Messiah’s House.
“When I think of Rod, one of the first things out of my mouth is, ‘He’s the real deal,’” Trafton said. “There’s no guile in Rod. You can always predictably find him in that stream of truth and doing right. He fights for the downtrodden.” Schroder’s 15 years as superintendent is AISD’s secondlongest tenure behind only Bob Ashworth’s 20 years from 1958 to 1978. Early on, administrators saw the rising potential for advancement in this Shiprock, N.M., native who was schooled in math and physics.
Schroder did not see such rising potential. There wasn’t so much ambition in him as just being tuned to the opportunities before him — be that as a coach/teacher at Sam Houston Middle School and Amarillo High, assistant athletic director, assistant superintendent for personnel, or the highest position, superintendent. “The superintendent’s job, it just evolved,” Suzanne said. “He didn’t seek it. It sought him. I asked him a time or two if this is something he ever thought about doing, and he said, ‘Oh, no. It’s a high-stress, political type of thing.’ “But Bob Moore (outgoing superintendent) came to him one day and asked if he would think about it. We thought we should be open to what the Lord wants, and so when Bob Moore said the board wants to look at you, he reluctantly said, ‘OK.’” A builder of people That conversation was in 2000. For the next 15 years, his leadership style was one of attacking problems and opportunities analytically and reaching understanding through team building. All of that was couched in his religious faith.
He met every Monday for years with recently retired district CFO Les Hoyt for prayer in Hoyt’s office. It was not showy or publicized, but an act both deemed important. “It tells me first of all how important his faith is,” Hoyt said, “and secondly, how serious he was to make sure the decisions that were being made and that he was involved in were in the best interest of students of Amarillo and Amarillo in general. “He never once shied away from the tough issues and decisions. He was extremely skilled in working with various parties to reach consensus. “He was a driven person. If he takes on a task, he’s going to see it through and do the best he can. In spending times on those Monday mornings, you could see the sincerity he had for everything surrounding AISD.”
Schroder, twice Region 16’s Superintendent of the Year, was respected statewide among his peers. Twice he served as president of the Texas School Alliance and on the board of directors of the Texas Business and Education Coalition. He could have stepped into something larger, but Austin thinks Schroder saw his position as a calling, not as a stepping stone. “He could have easily gone to a bigger district or done something on the state level, but I think he stayed to work for the benefit of the community, and a lot is to be said for that,” Austin said.
“Clearly, after all the time I’ve spent with him, Rod is one in a million. He has warts like all of us do, but I really feel like every day when his feet hit the ground, he felt God’s anointing in him and worked like a Trojan to do his best for the students of Amarillo.”
His roots were in math and physics, and solutions and improvements through data fascinated him. The Schroder table in the basement, Suzanne said, was often covered with test scores and other data. “He wanted the details of how the school district worked,” she said. “He’s always been a numbers guy, and felt the need to know the intricate details of the district.” As a numbers guy, he helped keep AISD financially sound, and as Austin said, “He had a great respect for money, and never lost sight of the fact it wasn’t his money, but the community’s.” But as a numbers guy, he was also a problem solver, and each challenge has a process to get to the best conclusion — be that in a school district or a getaway cabin.
Trafton has a cabin in Angel Fire, N.M., and a few years ago, wanted to put a new deck on it. He had some rudimentary plans drawn and purchased some materials. He asked Schroder to take a look at the plans and material and provide any feedback. “It was really first grade, but I thought good enough,” Trafton said. “Rod came back a week later with architectural drawings and exact materials, and he said, ‘Let’s do this.’ “He and Suzanne and Brenda and I were there for three days, put the new deck on and it’s nearly perfect. He designed it so much better than I could have dreamed.” And the point? “He’s that way with people,” Trafton said. “He builds people. He builds a team. He doesn’t want agreement, which is interesting, but he wants understanding so there’s a buy in. If you buy into the plan, you’re going all in because he’s all in.”