LEE member Eli Rolfes currently lives in Covington, Kentucky and teaches Algebra II at Holmes High School.
Thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your leadership journey! Please share a bit of your LEE member journey.
I initially joined LEE to complete the Policy & Advocacy Writing Program. Through LEE, I have been connected to the Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellowship and Policy Advisor Fellowship and will be participating in both this summer.
Why did you decide to seek out these opportunities?
I was drawn to the Policy & Advocacy Writing Program because I am interested in transitioning into policy work after my time in a classroom. The jobs and fellowships I’d like to pursue request writing samples, and I had no experience writing in the policy realm.
I applied to the Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellowship because I am relocating to Washington, DC this summer and want to make connections in the region. I know that I wanted to apply the skills I learned as a teacher to policy work, but I am not entirely sure where my skill set fits in the policy landscape. I am particularly interested in the opportunity to learn more about myself as an advocate and discover my role in the fight for equity. During the interview process for this fellowship, I was connected to a state representative in Kentucky who was looking for a Policy Advisor Fellow to help her with a pre-K initiative in the state. I have started working with her on launching Pre-K for KY, an advocacy organization promoting pre-K in Kentucky.
What has been the impact of doing LEE’s virtual content on your leadership journey?
The Policy & Advocacy Writing Program made me more confident to seek out larger roles in policy and advocacy work. I have a better understanding of how to communicate effectively in these roles and have tangible proof that I can do so. The course not only helped me write an effective policy memo, but it helped me understand the process and reasoning behind memo writing. This has been the most impactful in the discussions I have had with policy makers and employers.
Why do you feel that it is important for members to have access to resources like these virtual content opportunities?
Educators develop a multitude of useful skills in the classroom, including time management, project development, and communication skills. However, it can be difficult to translate these skills into community and policy centered advocacy. Our work and training as educators can be narrow. We invest heavily in the students in our classrooms, and the resources from LEE provide the tools to expand that impact into the community. They peel back the curtain and lend teachers insight into the role they can play outside the classroom.
What do you want LEE members to know about resources like 1:1’s, coaching, virtual content, etc.?
There is a plethora of resources available on the LEE website, but even more important is the team of people behind it who truly want to help in every way they can. As teachers, we do everything we can to help our students and prepare them for the next step in their journeys. Members of LEE’s staff carry that same passion, and it has been enlightening to be on the receiving end of that assistance.
*The above interview has been transcribed and is in subjects' own words, with minor edits for clarity or brevity.
Learn to communicate more persuasively about policy and advocacy issues with this online learning opportunity.
Designed for members of all interests and career levels, the Policy & Advocacy Writing Program is your chance to improve your writing in a low-stakes environment & receive confidential feedback from a LEE policy expert.