Jennifer Glass, a special education paraprofessional in KIPP Texas-Austin recently voted for the first time.
“I have a voice and a choice and need to begin using it,” she said.
She attributes her students and her four-year old daughter, Avery, for her newfound interest in advocacy.
“How could I tell them to grow up and vote, when I myself am not living by that standard? What our country is faced with today can be changed, but it has to begin with those like me who have spent a lot of time opposed to voting,” said Jennifer Glass.
She is not the only one incentivized to vote in this election. Early voting turnout has shattered records and Texas leads the nation in those voting by mail, absentee or in-person early voting. Already, more than 62 million Americans have cast ballots for the general election, according to the nonpartisan United States Elections Project. That’s more than 10 times the number of people who had voted by October 23, 2016.
Glass, a single mother, says she can empathize with her students, who often feel like their voices don’t matter. Her childhood was bleak. As a young student she was labeled with learning disabilities and behavioral issues. She spent time in foster care after her grandmother died and dropped out of high school early.
It wasn’t until she started working at KIPP Texas-Austin, that her worldview began to change.
In the classroom, is where Glass felt she could give the love she always wanted for herself. For the first time, Glass said she felt valued. That she mattered.
“I looked into the eyes of my child. She matters, and you know what? I matter, too. I am no longer just another person, another name, another face people will forget. I have a voice…and I’m going to use it,” she said.
KIPP Texas is encouraging voter participation through the November 3 election.