Joan Reynolds, West Potomac High School Leadership teacher, was selected by Principal Eric Brent last week to spend three days in Richmond shadowing Delegate Kris Amundson (D-44) at the Virginia General Assembly. While Amundson has sponsored a Student Job Shadow Program in the past, this is the first time she has tried a Teacher Job Shadow Program.
Reynolds said, "She [Amundson] hopes to expand [the program] in the future, with the intent that teachers can more fully use in their classrooms the skills they identify in practice. I was allowed to be the first. What an adventure those three days became."
Reynolds enjoyed her experience and credits Kathye Geary, Amundson's legislative assistant, for facilitating the trip seamlessly.
RECOUNTING HER experiences, Reynolds said, "Kris Amundson took me through everything she was doing, from her 7 a.m. presentation to a transportation sub-committee about reopening Woodlawn Road through Fort Belvoir, to Caucus where passing the Bills being presented that day are strategized, to the floor of the House of Delegates, where I got to see a bipartisan white flag waving and hooting when a delegate spoke too long and another delegate speaking eloquently about the gourmet cooking of toads, concluding: 'Sometimes, you just have to swallow a few toads,' bringing delegates gales of laughter and easing the tensions regarding what to do about the Virginia Budget," said Reynolds.
"It was impressive how the delegates easily and readily use humor as a tool to get them through the short but intense sixty days they meet each year. As much time as they spend together — literally every waking hour — their coping strategies, collegiality, and commitment were impressive.
"There were also constituents dropping by, evening meetings, rallies, and receptions each day; I saw that the delegates' days rarely ended until after 9 p.m. and noted with what respect Del. Amundson is held by her peers: she's totally accessible to all who came to her office.
"Knowing I am also an AP English teacher, Kris Amundson sent me to the Library of Virginia and arranged a meeting with the Archivist of Virginia, Conley L. Edwards, III, who showed me a variety of early Virginia treasures, including a beautifully illustrated book about Queen Elizabeth I published in 1625, maps drawn by George Washington, and the extensive collection of renowned landscape architect Charles Gillette. I was awed.
"I had little faith in our state government, before my trip to Richmond; but now I have great respect for the integrity and quality of the delegates and senators and for the process of legislating that occurs in Richmond. It was a life-changing, eye-opening experience for me, and I appreciate Del. Amundson's wisdom in asking teachers to share in the process. I hope more will get to experience the satisfaction of seeing state democracy working so well."