Advocacy

APPRECIATION AND ADVOCACY

Attitudes of Gratitude Go a Long Way

Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair
Spanish Teacher, Ross High School

It has been said that “A person that feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” I wish I knew to whom to attribute that quote, the message behind it is deeply powerful. Think about a time when someone expressed sincere gratitude to you for something specific – the student who took a moment to return to your classroom after graduation just to say, “Thank you:” the colleague who wrote a note to say, “Thanks,” when you helped out with materials or a lesson; the parents who reached out via email to thank you for your efforts to hold their child to high standards. 

How did you feel at that moment? If you’re like me, a quickly scrawled message from a colleague on a Post-It can sometimes feel like a prestigious recognition. When we receive messages of specific, sincere gratitude, our hearts sing, and we may float on a cloud for the remainder of the day. We find our energy replenished–suddenly we are reminded to see ourselves as creative contributors in a community of language learners. Success!

Imagine, then, how it must feel for politicians and their teams. We have much in common with our peers in elected positions. The media often find what is wrong with us and portray us as lazy, incompetent, or at least in a negative light. Citizens are quick to find our flaws, and sometimes seem reluctant to see or appreciate our efforts. We take a lot of criticism, and few and so memorable are those most gracious souls that take a moment to express gratitude. 

What a difference it might make then, if we thank our leaders. Can you imagine how meaningful it might be to one of them to receive a hand-written letter thanking them for voting favorably on policy for language education? Or even just for their tireless work to represent us? 

Here is the contact information for a few people for whom we could express our gratitude. Hopefully, they will continue to “do more” to support language education. A list of representatives that voted “NAY,” on HB 166 can be found at: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-votes?id=GA133-HB-166. The name will link you to a page where you can contact the representative or their office. 

Recently, at the national level, a bill was passed that granted $15 million in funding that supports World Language Advancement and Readiness grants. Your representative will recognize this as the 2021 FY Omnibus Appropriations Bill. These efforts were led in support by Congressman David Price (North Carolina) and Congressman Don Young (Arkansas). Senator Sherrod Brown supported the bill, voting “Yea”, as did Senator Rob Portman. You can send a note of gratitude to Senator Portman via this page: https://www.portman.senate.gov/meet/contact; and a note of gratitude to Senator Brown via this page: https://www.brown.senate.gov/contact/. Ohio Representatives Balderson, Beatty, Chabot, Davidson, Fudge, Gibbs, Gonzalez, Johnson, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Ryan, Stivers, Turner, and Wenstrup all voted in favor of the bill as well in the House. You can determine if any of these representatives are from your district using this site: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/OH#representatives, and find the representatives contact information by scrolling down the page to their official website or their phone number. 

Don’t forget your local school board, as well! Perhaps your school district has adopted the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy, or allowed your program to expand to include Advanced Placement program offerings, or permits you to travel abroad with students. Make sure your local leaders know how much you appreciate these opportunities and decisions. Let’s make our leaders aware of our appreciation of their support of language education and let’s encourage them to continue to do so.