I began working for the State Board as a Policy Fellow in February 2020, and was fortunate enough to spend a few weeks in the office before the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was one of my favorite professional experiences, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with educational issues in the District firsthand. When the pandemic started, I felt like our work at the State Board became about so much more than just school—it became about meeting families’ basic needs, finding ways of learning that work for everyone, and addressing equity issues head-on. While this has been a difficult situation, I’ve been able to see how all of these concerns intersect and what we as a State Board can do to improve things for others. Education policy is complex, but I’ve seen that there are people who care about serving students and families above all else, and who will work to create a more equitable world however they can.
I hope to bring all of the experiences, learning moments, and professional growth from my time at the State Board along with me. With that, here are my top three favorite memories from my time at the State Board:
- Bubble tea outing
We had a Working Session during my first week at the State Board, and to prep for these meetings, the team would often take a quick afternoon walk to grab some coffee or tea to fuel up for the evening ahead. This time, we got some bubble tea from a nearby spot, which was a great pick-me-up during a bleak winter afternoon. It was such a fun way to get to know everyone and be welcomed into the team right away.
- Tour of Educational Programming at D.C. Jail
Working at the State Board means that you often get to do site visits at schools across the District. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the educational programs offered at the D.C. Jail, which was a new initiative only begun in the past couple of years. The most impactful thing for me was talking directly with the inmates and hearing how they felt about the educational programs. They spoke highly of the classes offered in partnership with local universities, the technical skills they learned that they’d be able to use as soon as they re-entered the workforce, and the positive impact their professors had on them. We also got to tour the library in the building. D.C. Public Library has a partnership with D.C. Jail, which means they treat the library the same as any other branch in the city, full stocking it with thousands of titles.
- State Board Public Meetings
I’m lucky that I was able to experience a few public meetings in person before we had to shift to holding them remotely. It was inspiring to see so many District residents spending time after work to advocate for issues that mattered to them. When our meetings shifted online and we had many more public witnesses sign up than usual, I was humbled by how some of them stayed online until 9 or 10 pm at night to share their thoughts with us. Constituents are engaged, resourceful, and hardworking, and it was a privilege to be able to interact with them in this way. Their vital role in education policy, and the policymaking process in general, is something I will take with me wherever I go in public service.