During the 2022-2023 school year, I had the privilege of participating as an advanced Policy Ambassador for the Utah Education Association. I am also a special education teacher. I became a special education teacher because I believe all students can learn and have the right to learn. During this legislative session, I often felt like legislators do not understand what it’s like to be in education. This can be very frustrating at times when laws are passed that will have a direct impact on education. So, what steps can we take? How do we create positive change?
This year, my focus was on building a team of educational advocates. This team included community members, parents, and teachers. I took this approach because I knew I needed a team to help advocate for education. We spent time growing as a team and learning the legislative process. While following essential bills, we contacted legislators and other educational advocates.
This team started because I told a fellow teacher I was a Policy Ambassador and wanted to help others learn how to be educational leaders and advocates. With this teacher’s support, I could make my dream a reality.
Going through this process, I learned how powerful it can be to unite people with a common interest, no matter the size of the group. Unfortunately, our group could not attend Educator Day on the Hill due to life events for everyone, but we still had an impact. Some legislators would reach out frequently when discussing hard educational bills. Even though some of these bills passed, we could still make connections at a state level and have our stories heard.
During this legislative session, I focused on the word “intentional.” A positive advocate for education must be intentional. Nothing in life happens without the intent of others and individuals. “Intent” was our group motto. I would encourage you to find a word representing you as an educator. Take that word and build a story to share with others (not just during the legislative session).
What you do every day in the classroom matters, and amazing things happen every day in Utah schools. Share it and be a positive light on education.
Tooele Education Association
Special Education Teacher