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Ramon Ruiz: 2005 NC Teaching Fellow

Posted January 25, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 25, 2019 6:43 a.m. EST

Ramon Ruiz: 2005 NC Teaching Fellow

This interview was conducted by email as part of a series on teacher diversity in North Carolina.

What years were you a Teaching Fellow, and what college did you attend?

UNC-Pembroke from 2005-2008

Why did you apply to be a Teaching Fellow, and how did the program affect your life?

I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so this was a great opportunity.

What have you done since college, and what are you doing now?

I'm currently a teacher, but did not finish through Teaching Fellows. I changed majors several times and eventually stopped going to school for about a year to figure out what I wanted to do.

I ended up transferring to Fayetteville State University in Fall 2012 and graduated spring 2014 with a degree in professional studies and a concentration in math and music.

Why have you stayed in (or left) teaching?

As mentioned before, I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. It is stressful and exhausting, but I think the lives affected outweigh the fatigue.

I have considered changing positions within the education field (going from high school to middle school), but I don't think I'll leave the profession in general. Even if I thought about it, no idea what I'd do instead.

What advice do you have for colleges hoping to recruit more people of color and men to study teaching?

Be aggressive. If colleges really want more young men of color, especially for education, go find them.

Colleges are quick to spend thousands of dollars on recruiting athletes. Are we implying that we can't send a representative to local high schools around the state to do open interviews?

If they want them, go get them.

What advice do you have for schools hoping to retain people of color and men as teachers?

More support. As a teacher, my biggest struggle is the amount of hours I spend trying to get in contact with parents and reaching out to guardians to express my thoughts to them. I'm looking at my phone log just for this year right now, and since September, I've made 60 phone calls. I still haven't reached at least 25 of my students.

Many of my students are ESL and have parents that don't speak English, and many of these kids don't care. There's no accountability, and there's no incentives at home for these kids to do better.

When I work with these students, the responses range from them being positively receptive, to students who absolutely don't care. "Call my mom, she probably won't answer the phone anyway," or "Whatever, ain't nothing going to happen to me." There's no respect, and I'm expected to teach, discipline and grow these kids along with all these extra tasks.

Many professions have a specialist and a secretary to make phone calls and handle "extra duties." Why are teachers expected to do both?