“It’s a New Day, Antioch”

Matsui Local Government Fellow Ellie Householder at her Cal graduation

To start off the Administrators retreat, the Superintendent of the District showed us a video titled “It’s a New Day, Antioch,” created by Deer Valley High School students. It calls on residents to let go of the past and come together to make Antioch a better place to live (you can check out the video here). Having just been offered a 10-month contract to work for the District, this video especially resonated with me. As someone who grew up in Antioch, graduated from Antioch, then escaped to Berkeley only to come back a short few years later, this video is exactly what I needed. Antioch was far from a “great” place to grow up. Poverty and rising crime are some of the legacies of my time in the city. But coming back and having the amazing opportunity to work for the Antioch Unified School District really changed my perspective on things. It’s not the people, and it’s not even the environment that’s the issue in Antioch. It’s the policy and governing choices that caused the city to be a decade-long downward spiral. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of the future change. This video justified my coming back to Antioch, and has me now wholeheartedly invested in being a part of that “New Day.”

Not to get too sentimental or sappy here, but I am incredibly thankful to the Matsui Local Government Fellowship program for allowing me to give back to my hometown. Without this internship, I likely would have never been able to get my foot in the door in the District. Now that my eight weeks are over, my mentor (Jason Murphy, I mentioned him in my last blog post) offered me a Research Analyst position at the District. I will be working on Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) related projects, and will likely be involved in the community outreach portion and possibly some program development (yay!).

Excluding the job opportunity I got as a result of this internship, the internship as a stand-alone experience was stimulating, challenging, and insightful. I was able to write a position paper on gender equity, I researched dual immersion language programs, and gained ample insight to the day-to-day administrative work it takes to keep a district open (just to name a few things).  I really felt I made an impact on the District and met some of the most intelligent and caring people I’ve ever known.

I would highly recommend to anyone interested in public service to go back to your hometown. Being able to give back to the community you were raised in is not only invaluable to your own sense of self and development, but it is super useful to your hometown as well! Who else is better equipped to make policy decisions than someone who grew up in the system? What I lacked in the traditional knowledge I made up for in anecdotal experience having grown up in the District. This is useful for your employer and yourself!

To be honest, it all still feels like somewhat of a dream to be back in Antioch making a difference in the lives of students. I can’t even believe this is my last blog post as an intern and I’ll be an actual employee next week! But I am SO ready to start a new day as a representative of Antioch, and I vow to never stop fighting for my community.  Thank you, Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service for making my dream a reality.