Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Brittany Stull, life skills teacher at Lava Ridge Intermediate School in Washington County School District
When I went to my first training to be a UEA Policy Ambassador, I went in knowing nothing about what I was about to get myself into. Sure, I knew I had to attend Educator Day on the Hill and help lobby my politicians to fight for positive change for teachers and our students. I just didn’t know how much effort it would take on my part, the process I was supposed to follow, and what I was supposed to actually say to my politicians. However, I knew that I wanted to do my part to make the world of education better for myself, my co-workers – both teachers and other staff, and the students.
Hanging on the wall of the (Policy Ambassador) training room were a bunch of quotes and we were asked to stand by our favorite, something that resonated with us. I chose a simple quote by Howard Zinn that embodied exactly what I was hoping to do with my endeavor: “One tiny action can spark another and another, which can snowball into big actions and big change.”
It’s daunting to think about the big changes that need to happen in education with how much hard work and how many resources that would need to be devoted to that big change. Thinking about the smaller actions I can do is far more doable. When you are staring down the impossible task of making everything better at a systemic level, it’s hard to find the motivation to do anything. However, my beginning here started with one small action a few years ago: I said ‘yes.’ The building rep at my school was transferring and she asked if I would be her replacement. Saying ‘yes’ was easy.
The momentum you build from one small action to the next feels good. The successful completion of each action motivates you to take the next small action. I went to the meetings. Then I was asked to fill a vacancy on the executive board for my local. Again, all I had to do to start was say ‘yes’ and figure it out as I go. At each step, I never even thought about how that might turn into more down the road. I never imagined I’d become as involved as I am now, but I don’t regret any of it.
I may have a bad habit of jumping into things before I really know what I’m getting into, but I truly believe that change has to start at a personal level if anything’s going to happen for everyone. I have seen others willing to step up and do their own small actions to help. Their willingness to do something sparked my small actions. Now, I hope my willingness to put myself out there and do my part encourages others to take their own small actions. Together, these small actions from all of us can and will snowball into big actions and big change.