Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media

CIVICS NOW

“I Helped This Teacher Get Elected to Congress!”

Imagine standing in a hotel ballroom full of cheering people and watching history unfold before your eyes. That’s what I did on November 6, 2018.

It was election night. I’d spent six months volunteering for Jahana Hayes, a congressional candidate. As I listened to Jahana give a victory speech, I knew that I—and other students—had helped her win.

I never cared much about politics. But in 2016, I took a government class at school. At the time, the presidential election was under way and I enjoyed following the campaigns. They were more entertaining than any TV show.

But for the 2018 midterm elections, I wanted to do more than watch from home. So this past spring, I googled to see who was running for the U.S. House of Representatives in my district. That’s how I found Jahana.

Get Schooled About Congress

I liked her positions on the issues that matter to me, like the environment. Plus, we live in the same town and she grew up in the city next to mine. I thought, How cool that someone who lives near me is running for Congress!

I messaged Jahana on Facebook and asked if I could assist her campaign. She replied instantly, inviting me to help.

Jahana was a teacher, so she sees the potential students have. I got to do cool stuff. On primary night, I spoke with all of our poll standers. Those are the people who go to the polling places and get the final vote counts. As each number came in, I entered it into a spreadsheet. It was so exciting! My heart was racing.

After Jahana won on election night, I cried. I was really proud of what she had done and what all of us had done to help her. In her victory speech, she said, “There’s an army of students behind me that made this happen,” and she pointed to us in the crowd. We all just stood there screaming!

From the Classroom to the Campaign Trail

Hundreds of teachers ran for state and local office in 2018. Three of them explain why they got involved—and how their activism has inspired their students.

Headshots Courtesy of Politician

R. Travis Brenda  Republican, Kentucky

“It’s been exciting to see my students get excited about politics. They’ve taken an interest in government for the first time.”

Headshots Courtesy of Politician

Jessica Cates Janes 
Republican, Oklahoma
 

“I always told my students to be the change they wanted to see. By running for office, I decided to be the change I wanted to see.”

Headshots Courtesy of Politician

John Waldron
Democrat, Oklahoma

“Being a teacher taught me to listen to people, to work together to solve problems, and to include everybody in making decisions.”

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