Posted at: 07/20/2012 6:56 PM
Updated at: 07/20/2012 7:02 PM
By: Gordon Severson
Soldier, Teacher Changes Law
(ABC 6 News) -- A Southern Minnesota teacher, who recently returned from military service, got a check for more than $13,00 from Education Minnesota. But the reason behind the check is the real story.
"I was out for 17 years and then life changes, so I decided to re-enlist," Matt Reuter says.
In 2011, Matt Reuter, a 3rd grade teacher in Winona, was deployed to Afghanistan serving in the Air Force Reserves.
When Reuter came home and showed up for work at Goodview Elementary, he noticed that his paycheck was docked $11,000 for a substitute filling in for him.
"It only applied to teachers and educators, people that worked in the education system. To me, that was almost discriminatory," says Reuter.
Turns out it's written in Minnesota law. A law Reuter was hoping to change.
He got his chance when a colleague won Teacher of the Year and an opportunity to eat lunch with the governor. That's when he decided to hand write a letter, give it to his friend, and eventually get it to Governor Dayton himself.
"They got me ten minutes and I sat down with him. I explained it to him. He didn't like it," Reuter explains.
A few months later the law was changed, with Reuter personally invited to the signing.
"It's a good feeling knowing that no one else will have to go through it," Reuter says.
Word spread quickly amongst teachers who decided to invite Reuter to their national convention.
"A delegate from Michigan stood up at a microphone and said there's about 11,000 of us in this room. What if we all gave Matt a dollar? We could pay for Matt's substitute," Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher says.
$13,000 later, one teacher who made a difference, was rewarded for standing up for what he believed in.
"We're going to Yellowstone next week. It will help pay for the gas,” Reuter chuckles.