Band Together to Create Real Change – Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Shelly DeWitt

Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Shelly DeWitt, school psychologist in the Tooele County School District

I participated in a professional development course with Dr. Rebecca Branstetter who stated, “We have a choice: accept ‘what is’ and slog through our careers, or band together to create real change at a grassroots level and make this career what it was intended to be, helping prevent student failure and improving student outcomes in school and life.” This stuck with me and inspired me to apply to become a Policy Ambassador this year with UEA to be a part of real change.

Being a part of something new can bring anxiety and apprehension. It is easy to be a part of change in ways that are comfortable, but sometimes it is essential to step outside of your comfort zone. As a school psychologist, I teach students it is important to try new things, to advocate for themselves, to do things that can cause anxiety because it is unknown. One strategy that can assist in new strategies is learning about a new process and role playing how to engage in this process with friends.

As a UEA Policy Ambassador, UEA does a great job in providing full all-day trainings to provide all the training and information you need to feel confident when you attend an Educator Day on the Hill. They also provide role play and are available during the day to ensure that logistics and navigating the day goes smoothly and stress free. One additional thing that you can do is to plan a day to talk to your legislators with the company of good friends who share the same goals and aims for change.

During my day on the Hill, I went with a wonderful group of like-minded school psychologists and we were all very successful in advocating for the needs of our students in the areas of mental health and speaking to shortages in mental health support staff for our specific districts. Our stories might be different, but we share similar challenges across the state that we were able to express to our legislators.

You too can participate in the legislative process to create real change, change that is important to you and your students, and while this might seem a bit daunting at first there are things that you can do today to make small changes that will make a difference:

  1. Visit UEA Under the Dome
  2. Find your representatives.
  3. Review bills that might be of special interest to you at: 2022 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet and view all 2022 bills.