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Member & Activist Spotlight

Angela Dolan: Inspired to be a Better Advocate

Angela Dolan is a Deaf Education Teacher in Columbus, Ohio
Angela Dolan
Published: March 21, 2022

When I was 15 years old, my church went on a mission trip to a Columbus retirement home that predominantly served people who are deaf/hard of hearing. We had stayed there for a week and had started to learn some sign language so that we could communicate with the residents. At the time, I wasn't sure what you could do with sign language or all the opportunities that come with it.

I went back to my part-time job at Handel’s ice cream, where a deaf woman had come up with her son. She was signing to him what she wanted, and he was then voicing to me what his mom wanted. I knew enough of the basics to sign back to her about which different flavors we had and what she was asking. Her face lit up; she was able to communicate with another person and not have to use her son to talk to somebody. At that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue a career with sign language.

I’m a deaf education teacher, certified to teach preschool through 12th grade. I travel to different classrooms and schools to work one-on-one with students from as young as 3 to 19 years old—all with different degrees of hearing loss and academic needs.

We have classrooms for students who are either total communication, which is when the teacher is signing and voicing at the same time, or we have oral classrooms, where students are only voicing and not utilizing sign language. We also have students who are in inclusive settings, mainstream settings, or have an itinerant teacher that does pull-out services for extra support.

Unionism has influenced the way I look at my profession. I love that our union supports our students and its members.

I got involved with Columbus Education Association through my mentor-teacher, who was also the union rep, during my first year of teaching. I always remember how anytime I would ask about the union, she would have her union book, highlighted and tabbed, to easily reference any question I had. She could tell me anything I needed to know or knew how to find the answers.

More recently, I’ve been a part of my state association’s early career program, called Ohio’s New Educators (ONE). I get to work with members who are passionate about education policies. I was never involved in policymaking or politics. It all seemed overwhelming to me. And so, to see people my age giving testimonies, writing letters, or calling their senators has been amazing. It’s really inspired me to learn how to better advocate for my students and take action. This is important to me because what I do through my union impacts my students’ lives and the resources they need.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.