By Elizabeth Tzagournis, ’13
Maureen Reedy a former teacher at Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School, is now hoping to head to the Ohio House of Representatives. Her campaign team sits assembled at her kitchen table, plotting the next points of conquest, while explains her hopes and goals for the future of the education system.
Reedy, UA’s 2001 Teacher of the Year, has entered into the political arena as a candidate for the Ohio House 24th District. Reedy’s longstanding career in education began 29 years ago in the Bexley school district, and shortly thereafter she came to UA. Although much of her professional life has been spent in the classroom, Reedy’s first experience in the government occurred in 2002 when she was chosen as Ohio Teacher of the Year.
“I was the state’s official spokesperson for really going out and just talking… about what keeps our kids in a good position to learn, to thrive, to be successful,” Reedy said. “It was an honor, but it became in my eyes a great responsibility in terms of listening and then communicating to the legislature about what our kids need at the public policy level and in our public school system.”
Reedy’s time as Ohio Teacher of the Year ignited a passion to serve the community through bettering the public education system. She said her extensive background in education adds to her overall qualifications for the position.
“People have all been to school, and I found it’s fairly common that people felt they just understood the teaching profession and they understood the challenges and complexities, but we have a field of expertise that requires a lot of emotional [and intellectual] investment,” she said. “There are so many layers to teaching and then supporting your children academically, emotionally [and] helping them develop as human beings.”
Advocating for the rights of teachers within the political system is a core principle of Reedy’s. Her past undertakings to support teachers and all public workers evolved with the organized opposition to Senate Bill 5. Reedy helped lead the efforts against SB5 and said the most detrimental part of the bill was that it took the voice of the expert out of the equation.
“We need to be represented equally with administration,” Reedy said. “If there are areas where management, or administration or the legislature feels we need to compromise on then let’s all come to the table together and write the legislation. Listen to the voices of the experts before you put the bill in the legislature and call a vote.”
Reedy said she hopes to bring back basic democratic principles to the Ohio House.
“I’ve taught the foundations of democracy to fourth- and fifth-grade students for 25 years, that is a government of the people by the people and for the people,” Reedy said. “The ideal is you represent all, you listen to all.”
Reedy emphasized her goal of ensuring that students across the state receive a solid education. Her hope to aid each student in aspiring to his or her full potential is not novel, but Reedy’s record and qualifications differ from the typical Congressional candidate.
“I’m really looking to, as an educator, help join a team to create legislation that supports our children from the inside, from the teacher’s perspective, the mother’s perspective, and the taxpayer’s perspective. What’s best for our kids [and] ultimately what’s best for their future,” she said.
Although Reedy’s success in the repeal of SB5 was a defining moment, as was her decision to run for Ohio House, she maintains that her greatest achievement has been teaching her students through passion and intellect.
“Helping [my students] recognize their strengths and helping to inspire and motivate them to dig deeper and reach higher than what they thought was possible,” she said. “That’s what I think [is] my greatest achievement. Helping my students to connect emotionally, to [expand] their intellect.”
Reedy’s bid for a seat in the Ohio House will continue as election day approaches. As the dissension among Republican and Democratic presidential nominees and fellow politicians heats up, Reedy assures her position has never been solely that of a political party.
“It’s not about political parties, it’s about building on our strengths and confronting our challenges and pushing through obstacles together through our community. Our schools are a community and our state is a community,” Reedy said. “Instead of being polarized with our political parties, instead of being oppositional, it’s about how we all have kids, we all are members of the community. We all want economic prosperity and economic opportunity and [it’s] how do we get there together.”