Have I Done Enough? - Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest
Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest, teacher at Ogden High School in Ogden School District
Every time the school bell rings to excuse classes for the day, the same question goes through my mind. That question has always been "Have I done enough for my students?" I am not confident that I will ever receive a complete answer to this question, but I believe that I must keep trying everything possible to gain a piece of mind when I answer that question after every school day.
UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest (left) participated
in UEA Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 8
For the past six years, I have had the privilege to work with students who have come from every part of the world. Each one of them has come here to Utah with a valuable diverse background, which makes them all unique in many ways. No matter what the differences, they all have a story about their lives and the extraordinary journey they are living. Part of the story is joyful because of the resiliency, effort and courage they possess in their lives. It takes many unique characteristics to come to a new environment with new traditions, but still thrive and go for your goals.
However, many aspects of their story are downright heartbreaking. Some live with family members they had never met before they arrived in the United States. Others live with no family. The social and emotional well-being of my students is always on my mind and I constantly worry if this will impact their lives in extremely negative ways including their educational experiences. I know I have not done enough for my students if their social and emotional needs are not being met. If possible, I would meet these needs myself, but all educators know that it takes a community to make the difference indeed.
Walking into the State Capitol Building on February 8, I was able to receive a new comfort of trying to answer the question of “Have I Done Enough?”. Trying to explain my students’ stories to my representatives in the legislature has given me new hope that with their new knowledge about what my students go through in their daily lives, the members of the government can create, support and advocate for my students in the most proper ways possible. The leaders in our government are part of the community that can make a difference for students. I hope they find solutions to allow more people to be involved in students’ lives to assist the well-being in all of them.
The members of the Utah legislature have the unique opportunity to give the students of Utah what they deserve, which is every possible chance to achieve their dreams. When the school bell rings to excuse classes, I will always have that same question. The members of the Utah legislature are just like me and have a big responsibility. I hope after their days at work they are pondering the same question as me. When their days on the hill are over, I hope they are considering “Have I done enough for the students of Utah?”
About UEA Policy Ambassadors—
In 2019, seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members.