More than a Secretary: A Profile of the Amazing Miss Ramirez

By Hans Weber

Oliva Herrera, a mother of three, needed help with completing legal documents. She couldn’t think of anyone who could walk her through the process, especially since all the documents were in English, not Mrs. Herrera’s native Spanish. Suddenly, she remembered Ruth Ramirez, the friendly, bilingual school secretary who is a Mexican immigrant, like her.

Mrs. Herrera is just one of the many people Ms. Ramirez helped with matters big and small over the past decade as a key member of the Bradley Beach community. She has helped and connected Hispanic families by using her knowledge of Spanish and English and her experience as an immigrant.  

After 22 years, Ms. Ramirez left the district on October 1 to take a job in Robbinsville as the curriculum & instruction administrative assistant, working with data. Though she plans to return to BBES next week to help translate for parent-teacher conferences, her daily presence in the school will be deeply missed.

Ms. Ramirez was born in 1989 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. In 1991, her father immigrated to the US. Two years later in 1993, she, her sister, and her mom joined him, living in an apartment in Bradley Beach next to Riley Park. That same year she started kindergarten at Bradley Beach Elementary School (BBES). 

In BBES, Miss Ramirez said, she was shy and scared. It was also hard for her to communicate since she only knew Spanish. She had trouble making friends with other kids. But she had help from a favorite teacher, Miss. Hamernick.

In 2003, she graduated from BBES and was accepted into Red Bank Regional High School Academy of Finance. In 2007, she graduated from Red Bank and went to Brookdale Community College. A few years later, she transferred to Monmouth University to get her education degree, and her major was math.

To get her education degree, she had to do fieldwork in a school. She applied to do it at BBES and was accepted. Before this, BBES had not associated itself with universities, so she was the first person to do something like this in BBES.

Miss Ramirez worked for her former teacher, Miss. Hamernick, from 2010 to 2011. After her fieldwork was done, she continued to come as a volunteer. Soon after, her hard work was recognized and her volunteer job was turned into an internship. For the next year, she continued to work there as an intern.  She did this even after she graduated.

 It paid off in 2013 when she got a job at BBES working as a paraprofessional for kindergarten. After getting this, she became more involved in the school. She also started to participate in events and served as a translator for conferences. She continued to do this until 2017 when Mrs. Bartlett retired, and she got a new job in BBES as the attendance secretary.

For this job, she helped kids and translated forms. She also handled attendance and Genesis (This is where BBES attendance is recorded). In 2020 Ms. Slocum retired, and Ms. Ramirez got her job as the superintendent’s secretary. She continued to offer her translating services for events and meetings.  

So now you have learned who Ms. Ramirez is. But how has she been helping the community? She has helped many people in many ways using her knowledge of English and Spanish. For example, she translated school forms to Spanish for Hispanic families. She has also helped people by volunteering to help out in ESL classes for adults. She assisted with the after-school ESL program for kids, while also helping students with their homework. Some other things that she did were offer translation services at events such as Back to School night.

She has helped Hispanic families in much bigger ways as well. She has helped with legal documents such as immigration papers; done paperwork for them, such as high school applications; found them counseling;  and even set up doctor appointments! 

Ms. Boyle, a friend of Ms. Ramirez, said, “Ms. Ramirez connected with Hispanic students and families in our school and local community through language, culture, and shared experiences.” She has shared her culture by organizing a Cinco de Mayo event and then teaching people that it is not about Mexico gaining independence like most people think, but actually it is about winning a decisive battle against the French. 

She also gave presentations about herself and her culture to one of  Ms. Boyle’s social studies classes. She also gave a similar heart-wrenching presentation about her immigration to the US and her struggle to fit in without speaking any English to the 2018-19 graduating class. Ms. Ramirez said, “I remember having tears coming down my eyes at one point and when I looked around, I noticed there were tears in the students’ eyes as well.”

Ms. Ramirez tries to help everyone though not just Hispanic families. She made a beautiful wooden sign with LED lights for the Talent show that our school still uses. Other events she was involved in include the Book Fair, Night at the Museum, Math Night, Safety Patrol, and a mentorship program. She helped out in the Drama Club too. Once a kid told them that they couldn’t make it just a few days before the show. They looked for a replacement but couldn’t find one! So, even though she gets nervous in large crowds, she stepped in and played the role.

Robbinsville is beyond lucky to have Ms. Ramirez. I am sure that she will find herself helping all sorts of people there, with things big and small.  

As Ms. Ramirez said, “My hope is to inspire whether it’s through my Latin roots, through kindness, or through growth. And I am grateful for all the success and happiness coming my way.”


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