Becoming an Advocate

Michelle Camp_214One of the main reasons I became an ACTE member is for the advocacy work they do for my profession.  I find it reassuring knowing that my dues represent me on Capitol Hill.  Although I am thankful for this representation for myself, I had always been hesitant to advocate myself.  I suppose I was much like the child in the teacher’s class who does everything they are supposed to do, and even more, but are afraid to talk to the teacher.  I viewed my legislators the same way.  The system seemed so complex: the difference between a congressman and a senator, all the different districts in my state, and they work in Washington.  It was all too overwhelming, and left me only wishing I had paid more attention in my 8th grade Civics class.

In 2014, my local DECA officer became DECA state president and as we were gearing up for a trip to Washington, DC we were told she would go to visit our legislators and I would accompany her.  I was not shocked by how nervous this made me.  How would we find all of their offices, what would I say, what would they ask?  And I was the adult. I laugh about that now, but I was sure thankful to hide behind my CTSO officer that day and let her do all the talking. 

Then this year, I became an ACTE Fellow.  Part of my fellowship was attending the National Policy Seminar in Washington, DC with one entire day devoted to hill visits.  I was thankful for my past experience with my DECA officer so I knew what to expect.  This time around I knew I had to do my homework, no student to hide behind.  With my ACTE leave-behinds in hand, I felt confident with the visits.  Plus I was with other CTE leaders in my state. 

I found that, while I am no expert on every policy affecting CTE, I am an expert in my classroom.  And honestly, I found that my senator, Boozman, really just wanted to know about me and my students.  He deals with policymaking all day, and he was happy just sitting around a circle sharing what CTE means to my students, his Arkansas students. 

While I know I am not the only CTE educator who feels this way, I encourage all of us to be willing to share our stories.  I do not need to impress my legislators by knowing about their jobs, I just need to be willing to share with them about my job. 

Michelle Camp
2017 ACTE Region IV Fellow
PCSSD – Maumelle High School
Maumelle, Arkansas

 

Read more posts by Michelle and the other 2017 ACTE Fellows…

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