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Getting to Know the Next CEO of Russell Byers Charter School: Jessica Ramos

March 28, 2022

We’re excited to welcome newly appointed CEO Jessica Ramos, who will be starting July 1, 2022. Before our beloved CEO Carol Domb retires, we want the Russell Byers Charter School community to have the opportunity to get to know Ms. Ramos and learn about her vision for leading our school. 

We believe you’ll be just as impressed as we are by her passion for education, her kids-first attitude, approachability, and the depth and breadth of her experience and knowledge. 

To aid this introduction, we asked Ms. Ramos a few questions about her experience, what led her to RBCS, and how she plans to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of our students while growing in community.

Here’s what she shared.

Q: You have an extensive background in education. What led you to this work initially, and what has inspired you to continue working within this field?

From an early age, I wanted to teach; I knew for sure in second grade. I had the best teacher who made things make sense and inspired a curiosity in me that I still haven’t lost. I can recall going home and “playing school” with my friends from my neighborhood. As I got older, I became keenly aware that none of my friends went to the same schools that I did. My mom knew that the schools in our neighborhood weren’t the best. Knowing that prompted her to explore the school choice options and enroll me in different schools. This inequity was apparent to me as a kid and stuck with me as I finished my undergraduate degree at Temple University. I knew that I wanted to work in a school where I could make a difference. Once I was working in education, I learned quickly that many of my hypotheses about neighborhood schools and their inequities were spot on. I found myself surrounded by wonderful humans who deserved so much more than what they were getting. 

I continued teaching middle school ELA for quite some time. I then moved on to tackle leadership because I wanted to have more of an impact on the systems that lead to the inequities I saw playing out in my school. After leading a school and making some significant headway on the equity front, I decided to try, once again, to tackle even more by moving into systems leadership. As an assistant superintendent, I got the opportunity to expand my reach and my impact and help others create equitable experiences for children at the system, school, and classroom levels. Knowing that I am making a difference is what has kept me curious and engaged in public education.

Q: What drew you to Russell Byers Charter School, and what excites you about the opportunity to lead here?

In my recent reflections about my journey, I found that I was yearning to be back at one place (a single school) where I could apply all my knowledge, and some of that curiosity, to have a lasting impact. 

I saw the RCBS role as the perfect combination of system and school leadership. I see this role as an opportunity to pick up an incredibly strong foundation and build it back better. I think that the pandemics, both social and medical, have given us such a great moment to re-envision what school can and should be for all children. I am excited to partner with the incredible talent at RBCS and build something beyond what any of us can even imagine. 

How would you like to further develop and support the RBCS community?

I think that a school’s community, both internal and external, is the heartbeat of the organization. Heartbeats are a tricky thing. They need to beat at just the right cadence to be considered as performing at an optimal level. If the community does not believe in the vision and the actions associated with the vision, then the pulse of the school will be weak. If they get too aggravated, confused with the direction, or upset with the outcomes, the heartbeat will be too vigorous, which usually indicates a problem. 

No, we want the pulse to be strong and steady. That is where we get optimal performance. 

I believe that to get there we need three T’s. Trust, Teams, and Transparency. To gain trust from the community, we must provide transparent leadership. We will not always get everything right on our first try. We must be willing and wanting to share our why and our how and then our results. We also must use a team approach when facing our biggest challenges. None of us can do as well on our own. We must make every effort to collaborate and truly team up with each other if we are to reach our goals. 

I see the community as so much more than just a scheduled meeting or an item on a checklist. The community is just as much a part of the school as those who work there. My goal is to create a true partnership between all stakeholders. 

What will you do to ensure Russell Byers Charter School is meeting the needs of its students?

Safeguarding the learning of all young people is core to being an educational leader. One of the major responsibilities of this role is to create a high-quality aligned instructional system. Total system alignment means that each item is working in concert with one another. That means there are high standards and expectations for all children. That we’ve got the right curricula and instructional materials in use, for all children. That our assessments are keyed to the standards and the progressions, but also encompass a whole-child approach. And that we have clear gateways for all children as they progress throughout their education career. 

When a system is in total alignment, it shows. It will foster the best circumstances for improved instruction and student wellbeing.

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