Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Ana Alcala, Spanish teacher at Hidden Valley Middle School in Jordan School District
Teaching middle school comes with its challenges and rewards. This year as I introduced myself to my online and in-person classes, a student approached to introduce herself. I was surprised as my student felt comfortable sharing her likes, dislikes and family background. Towards the end of our conversation, she said, “I have never had a teacher that looks like me.” Her words stayed with me and I realized why it’s important to have diverse representation in our schools. We share similar identities, backgrounds and are first generation Latina American.
As an educator I have been actively involved in analyzing, reflecting, and interacting learning curriculum and pedagogy. I am constantly criticizing lessons, thinking about improving curriculum and engaging students.
This past week the Utah Education Association mentored a group of educators in the legislature. I realize why it’s important to have an educator’s voice influencing policy. Now more than ever, I encourage my fellow BIPOC colleagues to get involved in spaces where our unique experiences can influence education reform. We learned from mentors who were willing to share their experience lobbying for education bills. I connected with colleagues who had little knowledge on Utah education legislation and enjoyed learning alongside them. All our conversations had one commonality and that was to seek ways to improve our education system. This mentorship has shown me the power of networking, the beauty of creating relationships, and building a community of educators because it does take a village.
Educators actively involved in education policy reform are a journey towards change. United we can move mountains and create change.