Walking into Westridge With Open Arms: Kara Ramirez, New Middle School English Teacher
Kara Ramirez joins Westridge as a new Middle School English teacher with a kind and social spirit—perfect for teaching 8th graders. Mrs. Ramirez welcomed me into her comfy Mudd office with a sweet smile, gesturing for me to take a seat. She comes to Westridge with over 15 years of experience working in schools and is thrilled for many more to come.
Before coming to Westridge, Mrs. Ramirez taught English at Yavneh Hebrew Academy for two years and at Polytechnic for 13 years. Over her time at different schools, she has met many people that have inspired her, just as she inspired them. “I have many good friends from working in schools, too. So I love the students. I love the families. I love my colleagues. I like that I’m always learning. It’s never boring,” she said.
Mrs. Ramirez values creating personal connections within her teaching communities. Over her first few days at Westridge, Convocation stood out to Mrs. Ramirez as an especially lovely experience. “As I was leaving the…employees area,” she said, “several people approached me that I didn’t even realize were part of the Westridge community because they have daughters here, but I’ve taught their sons at another school, and they came up and hugged me. And just to be able to hug people once again was really beautiful.”
Mrs. Ramirez grew up in rural northern New Hampshire. She went through school with the same class of 48 students that she grew up with, starting in elementary school. Growing up with small class sizes and close attention from teachers inspired Mrs. Ramirez to provide the same treatment for her students. Mrs. Ramirez found her hometown a very special place to grow up. “It was almost a little bit frozen in time being so far away. [We] didn’t have cable TV, or things like that—we did a lot of outdoor activities there,” she said.
After graduating from Colby College in Maine, Mrs. Ramirez followed some college friends to Southern California. She started by working jobs in marketing and human resources, but she later found her calling as a teacher. When Mrs. Ramirez started teaching at 28, she immediately fell in love with it. She reflected on the experiences she’s had teaching different age groups, ranging from 4th to 8th grade. “I love that it’s always changing,” she said. Mrs. Ramirez loves creating meaningful relationships with people, and she finds that schools are where the most friendly and welcoming people are.
What I love about English is that it is fresh and new, every single class and every single year. So even if you were teaching the same content, it never feels the same because of the many interpretations and contributions and backgrounds that students bring to an English class. — Kara Ramirez
What I love about English is that it is fresh and new, every single class and every single year. So even if you were teaching the same content, it never feels the same because of the many interpretations and contributions and backgrounds that students bring to an English class.
— Kara Ramirez
With her entire family back on the East Coast, she’s been spending most of her vacations going back to visit them. However, her trips from the East Coast to the West Coast aren’t the extent of her travels. Mrs. Ramirez has traveled to the U.K., Nicaragua, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and spent a year abroad in France.
On her various journeys, Mrs. Ramirez has the opportunity to connect with others, learn about different cultures, and get a glimpse into the lives of her favorite book characters. As an English teacher, it’s fitting that one of Mrs. Ramirez’s various hobbies is reading. She told me that she’s traveled with her mother and sister to Canada to visualize the paths from some of her favorite stories. “I think one of the joys I’ve gotten out of reading is to see how even though the characters may not be real, I can still follow their path through the reference points in the stories.”
Mrs. Ramirez is a mother of three, with two daughters in college and a 15-year-old son who attends Polytechnic School. Although the West Coast is very different from her hometown in northern New Hampshire, she found that “Southern California has been a really special place to raise a family.” Her kids have also helped her meet new people through their schools and various activities like Girl Scouts or volunteer opportunities. Mrs. Ramirez likes to keep in touch with all of her friends through hosting dinner parties, hiking together, and afternoon teas!
Mrs. Ramirez cherishes teaching English because it’s always changing. She keeps her curriculum fresh by listening closely to her student’s thoughts and backgrounds, understanding that everyone has different experiences that will change the way they view the subjects. Mrs. Ramirez also incorporates her own interests into her teaching. Recently, her class worked on a project about symbolism where Ramirez incorporated her passion for art. She hopes to give room for her students to be creative throughout the year. “Selfishly,” she said, “I always learned…from my students—through teaching English—that I also love [learning], so I just find it limitless in terms of its possibilities.”