Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz Hopes to Improve Education Legislation

by NATASHA VITALE

Photo by NATASHA VITALE

Going from a job as a school teacher to an assemblywoman may seem like a strange career change, but Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz’s passion for education exceeded beyond helping students in the classroom. When she began to feel limited as a teacher, she decided to get involved in the legislation that would ultimately help students in Nevada.

She was first elected to the Nevada State Legislature Assembly in 2010 for the 76th session and is now in her second session. She said that one of the reasons she came back for a second session is because she didn’t accomplish everything she wanted to accomplish in the first session.
“I felt like I had made little headway with the issue that I felt most passionate about,” Diaz said.

Diaz attended Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada and continued on to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, majoring in English with a minor in Communications. She earned her M.S. in Bilingual Education at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She became a teacher at C. C. Ronnow Elementary School in Las Vegas, and was honored in 2005 as Distinguished Educator of the Year in Clark County She also served on Ronnow’s School Improvement Planning Committee and as an Equity and Diversity Representative for the school.

As an educator for the past 10 years, she has insight and background on the subject which she brings to the Nevada State Legislature, more specifically to the Committee on Education which she is a member of.

“I feel very passionate about the community that I represent,” Diaz said. “I’m a school teacher in Clark County and I get to represent that district.”

Diaz decided to make the jump from being a teacher to working in the legislature when she became frustrated with the legislation concerning education and felt that she was limited with what she could do internally. She felt the next step to improve legislation on education was to become an assemblywoman. Legislation that helps non English language learners is one of her specific interests, because she feels that she helps represent the Hispanic community in Clark County and Nevada.

“I feel that my constituents have a voice at the table,” Diaz said. “There are certain needs that the Hispanic community has and we might be losing sight of them.”

Those needs according to Diaz are working class, jobs, healthcare and education issues, with education being the issue at the forefront. Some of the education bills that Diaz feels that are most important include AB 161 which requires schools to identify students who do not achieve proficiency in reading and to address the problem by creating programs to help them improve their reading skills.

Working at the legislature doesn’t come stress free and Diaz is not a stranger to a busy schedule. She spends a lot of time flying from Carson City to Las Vegas to spend time with her family during the week. As a wife and mother with three kids, it can be hard to balance family with work at the legislature, but Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz that it’s worth it to get the bills and policies that she supports passed. She said that she relies on her husband and daycare to make her busy schedule work.

“I have a newfound respect for single parents, because my husband also works in Las Vegas” Diaz said. “I rely on him and on daycare a lot. I also have a lot of supportive folks here who help make it work. At the end of the day, it’s worth the work to get the policies done.”



Categories: YOUR LEGISLATORS