Several years ago, his family lost everything in
a house fire. That has caused him to reach out ever
since to others who have suffered, he said.
He also knows homelessness — because it
happened to him.
“Even though I was a full-time employee as an
ESP some years ago, I was not able to make ends
meet and I was homeless for two months,” he said.
“Yet I made it to school on time every day. I did my
job, I smiled, and made sure my students were taken
Ramos said he felt especially connected to his
students that year, realizing that some of them might
be going through something similar.
One of the issues he’ll speak about during his
tenure is pay for ESPs, many of whom do not make
a living wage. “Some even qualify for government
assistance,” Ramos said. “This is a shameful
“Many of us are just a paycheck away from
being homeless ourselves,” he added.
Ramos describes ESPs as “some of the most
hard-working people in a school — essential to
fulfilling the needs of the whole student.”
“And yet we are limited in our pay and in the
amount of respect we receive,” he said. “This all
needs to change.”
He went on to reflect about the dedication that
ESPs show in their work.
“Many times we are the eyes, ears, voice and
even arms and legs of our students,” Ramos said.
“We change diapers, take punches, get our hair
pulled, put on bandages, line children up, feed them,
It seems fitting, given Ramos’ determination
that ESPs be given the respect they are due, that
beginning this year, each NEA ESP of the year
will be recognized by the Teachers Hall of Fame in
Emporia, Kansas. The change was made as a way of
honoring all educators.
F or the most part, Ramos is taking all of his new commitments in stride. He was already busy. In addition to working at Burncoat,
Ramos is first vice president of the EAW, vice chair
of the MTA Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee,
and a member of the ESP and Bylaws and Rules
committees and the Equal Opportunity Council.
At the NEA, he is a member of the Paraeducator
Institute Work Group and the Sexual Orientation and
Gender Identity Committee, and he is the Northeast
regional director of the Hispanic Caucus. He is also
a graduate of the NEA Minority Leadership Training
and ESP Leaders for Tomorrow programs.
Outside of work, Ramos does all he can to bring
the arts to local communities.
As the founder of a nonprofit arts organization,
Arte Latino of New England, Ramos was asked by
the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, to join his
education and arts and culture transition teams to
provide guidance on what was needed in the city.
Last summer, Ramos was asked to do a
bilingual adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” for
Trinity Repertory Company’s summer theater in
Rhode Island. The adaptation was a huge success,
bringing together Spanish- and English-speaking
audiences of all ages.
Ramos describes himself as “a little bashful
— not one to seek attention for myself.” So he
finds the initial rush of acclaim he is receiving
as National ESP of the Year more than a bit
As he walked off the stage after accepting the
award, fellow educators crowded around him to
congratulate him. The attention continued on the way
home, he said, with people in the airport in Dallas
recognizing him and “wanting to take a picture of me
like I was some sort of celebrity!”
Even on the plane, he said, “the crew announced
that they wanted to make sure they extended
congratulations to the National ESP of the Year.”
But true to his quiet nature and his desire for
inclusiveness, Ramos said that he wants to stay in
touch with the other NEA ESP of the Year nominees
and see that their talents continue to be recognized
while he is serving as ESP of the Year.
“I don’t want them to think that this is just it,”
he said. “I want to form a coalition with them. Just
because my name was selected doesn’t mean they
are not a part of this.”
Ramos said he will depend on the others to tell
him what is going on in their states.
“I’m really looking forward to connecting with
more people and seeing what I can do as ESP of the
Year,” he said. “I want to bring the right message.”
Ramos is determined to win respect for ESPs
Continued from previous page
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Photos by Chris Christo and courtesy of NEA
In photo at left, Ramos met with sophomore Thien Nguyen and Keefe Bangert, a teacher of visually impaired students, at the University Park
Campus School in Worcester. At right, Ramos was surrounded by a contingent of fellow MTA members on the night the award was announced.