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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017

CARRIE PAUQUETTE/for the VW independent

I am not biased. Okay, maybe a little biased. Regardless of one’s political views, parents should understand the sheer pride of watching their child represent her community, her school, and herself before an entire room filled with representatives from the American Federation of Teachers.

These AFT vice presidents and executive council members gathered from around the country into one giant conference room to collaborate efforts on promoting public school education. Van Wert City Schools was well represented during this meeting.

Van Wert High School student Madison Pauquette (center) speaks during a meeting of the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C., while Van Wert Federation of Teachers President Jeff Hood looks on. (photo submitted)

Van Wert High School student Madison Pauquette (center) speaks during a meeting of the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C., while Van Wert Federation of Teachers President Jeff Hood looks on. (photo submitted)

On the heels of a recent Van Wert visit from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and American labor leader and educator Randi Weingarten, Van Wert’s own AFT president, Jeff Hood, was invited to share with the members of the AFT what the visit from an appointed member of Trump’s cabinet meant for a rural Ohio school that was both ordinary and extraordinary, according to Hood.

Hood decided to collaborate in this presentation with my daughter, Maddie Pauquette, who is a senior at Van Wert High School. The two of them spent a couple of weeks brainstorming and preparing to be heard in Washington, D.C., on May 9. The opportunity was surreal.

The experience was even more incredible as we arrived in Washington, met with the press, then entered the conference room and saw the advocators of public education with Weingarten leading the meeting. She clearly sees the value in educators and the role they have on the lives of students in both classrooms and communities. Weingarten is heard again and again calling “public education the cornerstone of our democracy”.

Hearing people in D.C. talk about Van Wert was crazy. The town of Van Wert, the school system of Van Wert, and travelers from Van Wert were being discussed within this group of important people who are passionate about education. Hood described to the audience his role in getting both DeVos and Weingarten to Van Wert to see public education in action.

Pauquette told the group of AFT representatives about her personal experience with their visit, taking on the role of a press member for the day. She said this gave her an outsider’s view of Van Wert’s education and the school’s accomplishments. She shared that this unique perspective gave her a new appreciation for the quality of education, the personal investment of Van Wert’s faculty in their students, and how the Project Based Learning model prepared her for life after graduation.

After a few bouts of laughter and applause, plus Weingarten’s display of Van Wert school spirit (she gladly put on a VWCS t-shirt, compliments of Hood), Weingarten told the entire room that Maddie is a product of their efforts.

Talk about an overflowing sense of pride for what I just witnessed in my daughter, who confidently shared before a room full of powerful adults a portion of her educational journey and her ambitions that derived from her experiences in the Van Wert school system. As a result, we can all feel some prideful bias in knowing that Van Wert provides a quality education to our kids and people in Washington, D.C., know about it.

POSTED: 05/10/17 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: News