Amy Traynor has always known she wanted to become a teacher someday.
But what she never would’ve anticipated that her 19-year teaching career at DeLong Middle School in Eau Claire would launch her into the world of state politics.
Traynor, the 2012-13 Wisconsin Middle School Teacher of the Year, was named a co-chair of Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ transition team shortly after his Nov. 6 election.
“It’s a neat opportunity and a great honor to represent our kiddos across the state. It’s a whole new world. “ Traynor said in an interview Wednesday. “You don’t realize going into education how political it really is, but I think once I received my award and did more leadership at the state level, I realized there was a need for more teachers to be actively involved in the policy side of education; to really advocate for what’s happening in the classroom.”
In the 45 days until Evers’ inauguration, the team is tasked with recruiting and appointing future members of his administration, as well as developing priorities for his first term in office.
Eau Claire school board President Joe Luginbill said Traynor’s selection to the transition team is a testament to her dedication to advocating for students and education, as well as a hopeful sign that educators and child advocates “will have a seat at the seat at the decision-making table.”
In addition to her duties as an instructional coach at DeLong Middle School, Traynor is the regional and state teacher lead for the Every Teacher a Leader Summit and currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Network.
“Amy is known to be a dedicated advocate for the students that she serves,” Luginbill said. “That is the kind of passion we need to see more of in Madison.”
Traynor first began developing a working relationship with Evers when the then-state superintendent selected her to attend a national summit on teacher leadership in Washington, D.C.
They struck up a conversation about how to make education better in the state in the future. The two came to the conclusion that teachers needed to play a larger role in decision making at the state level, about what’s best for students as well as for teachers.
“That’s kind of where my passion falls, and where Tony’s passion falls,” Traynor said. “So that’s really how we connected.”
Traynor said she was ecstatic to find out that Evers would be running in the governor race and immediately did what she could to support him. When her husband called her while she was at Fleet Farm earlier this month and told her Evers had left a voicemail on their home phone asking her to be part of the team, she was over the moon.
“I’ve never been actively involved in politics,” Traynor said, “but knowing Tony and just how down to Earth (he is) and how he really has a heart for kids and education, I guess I just really felt like it was worth putting in extra time for and supporting.”
Traynor will serve on the committee until Evers’ inauguration or all members of his cabinet and administration have been filled.