New assistant principal joins staff
Phillip Leung: What type of educational credentials have you achieved?
Daisy Ramos: I graduated with my bachelor’s in economics. I have my master’s in curriculum instruction with an emphasis in mathematics. I have my admin credential. I have my single-subject credential for mathematics. Tomorrow I’m defending my dissertation from my educational leadership doctorate program from Azusa Pacific University.
Leung: What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
Ramos: I was in banking right after college. I graduated with economics. I thought banking, that was it. A few years in banking, my heart wasn’t in it and I went into the office, talked to my supervisor, and I’m like “I’m done.” I took two weeks and started thinking back: What was it that I loved? What was it that I was really passionate about? Math just changed my life. I took one geometry class over the summer and I felt so much confidence from that point on. It’s so lame. You think about it now, “Really a math class changed your life?” But, I swear it just completely the level of confidence I have in myself and my ability to feel like I can really go out and do this. I started thinking I loved math and I needed to go out and be math teacher. Sure enough, within two weeks of resigning from my job at Bank of America, I got myself into a credentials program and it was a transition to teaching at Cal State Dominguez Hills. I started in July and by August I had my first classroom at Lynwood High as a secondary math teacher. It was fast.
Leung: Did you start working as an assistant principal in another school?
Ramos: Yeah, I was an assistant principal from Northview High School, just down the road from here and the Covina Valley Unified School District.
Leung: How did you learn of Walnut?
Ramos: The district I was previously at would constantly talk about Walnut. Whatever you guys were doing as far as policies, what math courses you guys were offering, what acceleration points you guys had in your curriculum, they wanted to make sure they were doing it because they felt they were losing students to Walnut. In all our professional development meetings, they were always about: What is Walnut doing? What is Walnut Valley doing? I’m like, “Man, I got go over there because obviously my district just wants to make sure they’re doing what Walnut is doing.” You always hear about just how fantastic this school is. Not only Walnut itself, Walnut High, but also Diamond Bar school districts and you always hear about the great things. When you see it from afar, you want to be a part of what’s great or happening.
Leung: What led you to become the assistant principal?
Ramos: Being a math teacher, I was also an activities director and I always knew that the impact you can make it is a lot larger when you’re in a position like this. I think that’s my road. I easily connect with students in a classroom, but how can I turn that connection with students into a larger impact? Being in a leadership position, you can really make some changes that are beneficial for students. For example, when I was an assistant principal, we were able to make our A-G rate really high. Why? Because I was able to rewrite curriculum, take a look at the courses we’re offering and do what’s best for kids. Our kids want to go to college. How can we make sure the courses we’re offering actually reflect getting the kids there? I think the impact you make is larger, but you do miss the individual connections you make with students as a teacher. You don’t ever get that back. It’s very hard. As a teacher you would see [your students] every day whereas as admin, you might see them every once a while. That’s definitely my goal this year to connect with the students and get to know you guys a little just so you guys can see me out there. Mr. Dade is fantastic–he does a great job connecting with students–so I’m definitely going to learn from him.
Leung: How do students here compare to students at Northview or Covina?
Ramos: Northview, I would say it is very similar in that it’s really calm. You know, the minute you walk out onto campus, it’s like a family view. It’s the same at Northview, but it’s a lot smaller. There’s only about 1200 students. When you compare 1200 students to 2700 students, there’s vast differences in them, but I didn’t feel them in my first couple of days. But yesterday, when I was out at the snacketeria, that’s when I [thought], “Woah. This is 2700 kids.” Before that, I thought, “Where are they at?” The kids here, the kids there are all fantastic because all in the way you treat students and how they respond to you. If you treat them with care and respect, that’s the exact same thing you’re going to get. So whether it be at Northview or where I started at Lynwood, I always had great relationships with students. The students are fantastic everywhere and it’s always about my approach to students. You guys are really calm with a few differences, but once I get to know you guys a little more better, I’ll probably find some more.
Leung: How do you think your background in mathematics can help contribute to Walnut High School?
Ramos: I’m just a fan of math teachers and science, but I really believe it’s not just my background in mathematics. It’s more my background of where I grew up. You know, my ability to keep going and working forward. That, I think, is going to have a larger impact on what I do and the actions I take as a leader.
Leung: Where did you grow up?
Ramos: I grew up in East Los Angeles. It’s a very impoverished area, but something about being from there has helped me to keep going, keep fighting for not only myself, but now I take a look at my kids and I want them to have a fantastic future as well. Every time I meet with students, I’m always a fan of everything you guys doing. I’m always amazed at not only all the accomplishments, but how you guys are able to handle the rigorous courseload, family issues and school life issues. And to live in the day and age we do now with social media, I’m not sure as a kid I would be able to function well. There’s no way.
Leung: When you came to Walnut, what were your first impressions about it?
Ramos: I was so impressed. You’re just in awe. Growing up in East LA, you’ll never think you’ll end up in a leadership position at Walnut. That just never happens. To be here and to be able to impact students that are already amazing, I’m just so in awe of all you guys and the school. I’m definitely going to work my hardest to make sure that not only that I live up to the standard, but I definitely want to have an impact on the school and keeping pushing the school forward;.
Leung: What do you love most about Walnut so far?
Ramos: Chick-fil-A. I’ve never had a Chick-fil-A near my workplace and just this morning I was able to grab some. It’s right there: my lunch. I’m so excited Chick-fil-A is just down the street. I’m already thinking, “Hey, potlucks. That’s going to be my go-to. That’s what I’m going to bring.” Above and beyond that, not only are your colors cute, but I can dress up in it and have a lot of fun with them. I think being able to work with Mr. Dade is probably…. He is a superstar. When you get the chance to work with leadership you can learn from, I think as an upcoming leader, that’s what you want. To be able to work at a school site like this, that is already renowned in the State of California, but nationally, you just feel so blessed.
Leung: What are some goals you have planned and accomplished here?
Ramos: I definitely want to look into the A-G rate. The A-G rate here is about 88 percent, so if we can get into the 90s, that’s definitely one of my goals. I want to streamline a few of the things the GLCs do. When you take a look at the office staff and some of the responsibilities, there’s a couple of things you’re like, “Huh. That’s interesting how you guys do it that way.” I think it’s more like tradition than efficient so there’s a few things I can switch around here. But, just making sure I work with the GLCs and if any of the discipline that bubbles back, get that under control. There’s a few issues here, just as I’m looking at old paperwork from last year, so if I can get that under control that would be a huge success. Definitely the A-G rate, I think anything in the 90s would be a huge accomplishment.
Albert Law: Also, when you said you worked at the bank versus working as a leader, what do you think the main difference was? Was it the interaction? What made you dislike it?
Ramos: The bank job was an isolated job and I’m very much a people person. Being by myself, I didn’t feel like I was making an impact. It was very much: Here’s what you’re doing. You’re looking at numbers. Does it make sense? Do you approve or not approve? It wasn’t fulfilling at all and the hours were crazy. I knew if ever one day I was to have a family that it wasn’t workable and I definitely never wanted someone who was distant from her family. Family is very important. You’ll see them at the football games and you’ll see them around at any other events. I try to bring them as much as possible because even in this capacity, the hours are crazy. But there’s so much fun because you’re with the students and the staff, it’s just so different than being around people. You guys are really amazing. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty insane in these positions, but you guys and make it worthwhile.
By Phillip Leung, Production Lead, and Albert Law, Design Lead
Audio edited by Vivian Lee, Coverage Lead
Photo by Airi Gonzalez