Every day, teachers strive to make a positive difference in their students’ lives. Vineeta Lower, an eighth grade advisory teacher at Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), is empowered to extend her impact as an influential leader in her community and state by running for public office. She is the current Republican candidate for District 32 of the Oregon State House.
Vineeta has been a member of the ORVA community for the past four years and serves as the teacher advisor of the Monarch Writers, ORVA’s school newspaper. She says she feels at home at ORVA and is constantly inspired by her students. “I know this is where I want to be because we have such a unique and diverse population of students with various needs that being a part of their lives and impacting them in a positive manner brings me joy,” Vineeta said. “And not just students, but parents as well. It’s a great forum to educate and make that impact on their lives – not to mention what they teach me and bring to my life, as well.”
Vineeta decided to run for public office much for the same reason that she became a teacher—to have a positive effect on her neighbors, friends, district and the state of Oregon. Vineeta is cognizant of dedicating the appropriate amount of time to both her teaching career and her campaign. “It’s like having two full-time jobs where I must be mindful of what I’m doing and when I’m doing it,” she explained. “I try to make phone calls before work, during lunch and mostly in the evenings after work. While my campaign is important and ethically being mindful at work, it’s about the commitment I’ve made to my students. I take that very seriously.”
Although Vineeta has never held office before, she previously worked at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Government Liaison Office.
As a teacher, Vineeta aims to ensure that children are getting the best education possible. “We need to give teachers not just the resources to teach but the freedom to use new tools and curriculum that makes sense to their community and classroom,” she said. “I want to make sure that virtual education is a venue where students receive a rigorous and applicable education.”
The students at ORVA constantly inspire Vineeta to be a passionate advocate for education. “Working at ORVA has opened my eyes to a population of students that I didn’t know existed – at least to not the level I am aware of now,” she said. “Personally, it has broken my heart at what some of my students’ experience. It has also brought me joy at those moments when students are engaged with what I’m teaching and sharing their own stories. There’s nothing more exciting as an educator than witnessing that moment where a student becomes passionate about a field of study. It has made me so very proud of those that work hard despite challenges they face or because that’s who they are individually.”
As the only Republican candidate, Vineeta secured the Republican nomination for District 32 of the Oregon State House on May 15, 2018. The general election will take place November 6, 2018.