Spotlight on Janelle Peotter, 2015 Wisconsin School Social Worker of the Year
A few months ago, Janelle Peotter reached out to me explaining that she would be in the DC area in November. She wanted to use this opportunity to do some advocacy on Capitol Hill and wanted to know if we could give her some relevant and timely talking points. Janelle attended the SSWAA Summer Legislative Leadership Institute three years ago, which she describes as a “fantastic experience” that inspired her “to take a much more active role in Wisconsin over the last several years.” Of course, I was thrilled to assist Janelle! I prepared some SSWAA Legislative folders for us to take up to the Hill and blocked out time that day to do some Congressional visits with her.
Who to visit?
Bonus points for Janelle for maximizing her advocacy potential with multi-state representation! Janelle recently retired after over 25 years as a school social worker in the Green Bay Area Public Schools. She has now relocated to New Paltz New York, where she thinks she will have more time to get involved in the state and local level advocacy. So we took this opportunity to visit BOTH her former Representative in Wisconsin, Republican Reid Ribble, and her new Representative in New York, Republican, Chris Gibson. She also went to visit Wisconsin Republican Senator, Ron Johnson. Her timing could not have been better, as ESEA was on the minds of the education staffers and our conversations about meeting the needs of children, more now living in poverty than ever before, were very relevant.
But the best part of the day was when Janelle, with her “can do” “make it work” great social-worker attitude found a quiet spot in the halls of the Longworth House Office Building to skype in and accept her School Social Worker of the Year Award from the Wisconsin School Social Workers Association. Would you believe she chose to spend her day volunteering in legislative advocacy in our nation’s capital rather than stay home to receive this honor? And she even highlighted the importance of her advocacy work in her speech and encouraged her fellow WISSWA members to become more involved at the state and local level. What an inspiration! Wisconsin may have lost one of their great advocates, but New York just gained another one. And SSWAA has a model member to be proud of.
YOU can also be part of SSWAA advocacy efforts! Come to the 2016 SSWAA National Conference and join us for a field trip to DC for a PRE-Conference Day on Capitol Hill! Members of Congress need to hear your personal stories about the work you every day and how you contribute to positive outcomes for the students and families you serve. You can also contact your state association to see about getting involved at the state and local level. We need school social workers to be as good about advocating for the important work they do as they are for the needs of their students!
Congratulations, Janelle and thank you for your advocacy!