Senator Cwodzinski: Awe: best word to describe first three weeks on the job

Three weeks into my newest adventure as the State Senator representing Senate District 48, I think it safe to say I am completely in awe.

For 33 years I spent my days teaching high school students about American government. I taught my students that freedom isn’t free, and that understanding our government is critical – both to being a responsible American, but also to appreciate what makes this country so unique. Three weeks into my newest adventure as the State Senator representing Senate District 48, I think it safe to say I am completely in awe.

My sense of patriotism is experiencing a huge surge these past few weeks. From my swearing in ceremony, to my first set of committee hearings, I am overwhelmed by the incredible knowledge and experience of my fellow colleagues and Senate staff. For example, I’ve always known that Minnesota is a wonderful state, a state that values education and caring for our environment and for the most vulnerable among us. But to actually sit on the Environment Policy Committee and hear from the DNR about everything they’re doing to maintain our state’s parks and trails, to learn about the minutia that goes into making our state a beautiful place – invisible work to so many Minnesotans – that was powerful.

I’m also proud to sit on the Senate Education Policy committee. As a life-long teacher, I remain passionate about ensuring that all Minnesota kids are given the best education possible. I know that when kids get that spark – anything is possible. And in order to ensure that all students in Minnesota are given the time and attention to reach their potential – we need to be prioritizing the school services that support them. That means school counselors, nurses, chemical dependency officers and others who help students solve their problems must be in all of our schools – and at a ratio that allows them the time to work with all students who seek their support.

In addition to serving on the Education Policy and Environment Policy committees, I’m also serving on the Veterans Committee. During one of our first hearings we got an overview of how the Department of Military Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs operates. This overview alone provided me with some incredible insights, and allowed me to meet others who share my strong sense of patriotism. I’m so looking forward to learning more – particularly about these organizations’ work with post-traumatic stress disorder and how we as legislators can work together to care for and protect Minnesotans who have served.

I’ve always believed I should leave the world a better place. Throughout my decades of teaching, I tried to instill this message into my students. Now, I’m trying to practice what I preach. I am forever grateful to the people of Eden Prairie and the Southwest metro for believing in me and electing me to serve as their voice in the Minnesota Senate. I promise to do my very best to serve you and all Minnesotans, and to leave our state a better place than when I found it.

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Steve Cwodzinski represents District 48 in the southwest Twin Cities metro.

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