Dr. Heidi Ramirez, Temple’s director of the Urban Education Collaborative, was nominated by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell as the first Latina member on the board of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Nov. 5.
If appointed by the state Senate, Ramirez would become the first Latina member of the five-member reform commission, which was created in 2001 after the state’s takeover of the School District of Philadelphia.
Rendell received numerous nominations from Temple faculty, encouraging him to nominate Ramirez to the reform commission.
Ramirez noted that her agenda on the board will be strictly to implement change in education reform, not politics.
After growing up in a single-parent environment in Rochester, N.Y., where there “were not a great deal of resources,” Ramirez said she knows firsthand how influential education can be on a child’s life. With degrees from prestigious schools across the country, such as Stanford and Harvard, it was only natural for her to want to pass on educational opportunities to others.
Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art education from Syracuse, Ramirez intended to become a full-time teacher inside the classroom. But after obtaining her master’s degree, she began working in Washington D.C., hoping to effectively change policy being made on education.
Her time in Washington made her realize just how little attention was devoted to children from poor, minority backgrounds. This led to her to her decision to work at Temple, where she has been for the past two-and-a-half years.
“Philadelphia struck me as a place that had high needs, as well as high possibilities,” Ramirez said. She noted that Temple’s College of Education is very unique in its focus on improving urban issues within the community.
Ramirez will continue to work at Temple as its director of the Urban Education Collaborative if she is appointed to serve on the commission.
While maintaining both jobs will be very time consuming, Ramirez said she hopes to bring a new energy to the board that more actively engages students, parents and teachers in creating change, especially for those students who are at a great disadvantage. She credits this as the kind of work that “Temple has been up to all along.”
Ramirez encouraged Temple students not to be afraid of the Philadelphia community, but to be excited about the opportunity to get involved.
“There are great schools in our own backyard,” she said.
She also said Philadelphia schools would welcome the opportunity to work with college students hoping to help the community. Ramirez recommended that students who would like to work in the urban community are clear about the role they want to play prior to committing themselves, because the bond formed between mentors and students is very strong.
With education as her primary passion, Ramirez was referred to by Rendell as the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s “most qualified” nominee in a Nov. 5 Philadelphia Inquirer article.
A confirmation from the State Senate will finalize the decision as to whether or not Ramirez will serve by the end of January.
Kylee Messner can be reached at email@example.com.