I find encouragement in the idea that big things start small. I’ve seen that phrase come up in many aspects of life. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Educator Day on the Hill with other UEA Policy Ambassadors. I will admit that signing up to participate in this program was well outside my comfort zone. Being unfamiliar with many of the legislative procedures, I was quite trepidatious about meeting representatives and senators in person. However, I also felt a strong desire to speak out as an advocate for educators, students, and other public education staff. In doing so, I hoped that I would become more knowledgeable about the happenings on the Hill and more confident in my ability to build relationships with those who make such important decisions for education.
I am not so unrealistic as to think that my tiny efforts this year are enough to make much of an impact, but I do hope that one small success will lead to something greater. During my time at the Capitol building, I was fortunate to meet with Representative Karen Peterson, the representative for the district where I live and for the school where I teach. She is a strong advocate for educators. I found her to be quite personable, and having a brief conversation with her was not as scary as I thought it would be. After explaining to her that I often find it somewhat odd and frustrating that many of my day-to-day interactions with students are influenced by decisions made by legislators who have never seen my classroom, I mustered up a little extra courage and invited her to come and see all the good work that is happening in our school. She graciously accepted and even offered to attend a staff meeting (when the craziness of the legislative session is over, of course.) I look forward to following up with her later in the spring.
All in all, I am glad that I was able to participate in the UEA Policy Ambassador program and be guided by our UEA Legislative Team and former policy ambassadors. I met great lawmakers who genuinely want to do the best they can for public education in our state, and I learned how important it is to reach out and begin building relationships with them. This process has fueled that first spark to be an advocate for education, but now those first steps have given me a better direction to continue the journey.
Davis Education Association