Photo credit: Jeni Ward Bolander

I’m not really sure how to put into words what today meant. It’s hard to sum up something that started just over three weeks ago and see it come together so quickly and perfectly.

I got to the capital before the sun had even fully arisen, about an hour before the start of the protest. The group that has served as a sort of leadership think tank, of which I am a member, for KY 120 United met briefly, and for the first time in person. And then we walked together toward the front of the capital building. When we rounded the corner and saw the massive crowd gathered at the bottom of the hill…the immense sense of pride that filled all of us was evident.

This was what we have been working so hard for, to see teachers and public workers from all 120 counties of Kentucky gathered together to send a message to Frankfort. What started as a fight over the threat of losing our pensions has turned into a war for the preservation of public education.

Photo credit: Jeni Ward Bolander

We joined the group at the bottom of the hill, then walked together with friends from all 120 counties, united, back up the hill to the capital steps. There were chants and cheers as several state senators and our attorney general joined us and gave speeches. A few from our group decided to head inside to try to grab a seat in the gallery, to be there when they were gavelled in. When walked through the doors, we were met by a massive sea of red, our color, already inside, filling three floors and the rotunda, already chanting. The crowd booed legislators who had voted against us and cheered for those who had supported us in our efforts. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and videos, it was so inspiring.

And that’s what Monday really was, a day where I have never been so proud to be a Kentucky teacher, holding the line for and with my fellow teachers and state workers from ever corner of our state, united across all 120 counties, fighting for the pensions we were promised in our contracts, for the preservation and funding of public education, and for the advancement of our Commonwealth. It was beautiful and I am proud and humbled to have played a part in it and I am forever grateful for the experience.