Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Ramsey Merritt! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I grew up in North Carolina and went to UNC-Chapel Hill for Journalism (Go Tarheels!). Upon graduation, I moved to Argentina to teach English. I returned to the US and moved to New York, where I lived for a decade. I worked for the New York Times in print production/design, research, and operations in both New York and London before becoming a teacher through a wonderful program called “New York City Teaching Fellows.” I earned my Master’s in Math Education and have worked in both public and private schools. I have taught a variety of grade levels, ranging from 3rd to 11th. I moved to Southern California during the pandemic and have decided to stay here. In the fall, I will become the Math Specialist (grades K-6) at Oakwood School in North Hollywood.
What or who inspired you to pursue your major/career, Ramsey?
I come from a long line of educators. My grandmother and mother were teachers, along with numerous aunts and uncles – ranging from special education to elementary school to university professor. I also had grown sick of working a traditional 9-5 desk job and thought education was a chance to make a direct impact in the world. Plus, I love kids.
What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?
I continue to be motivated by the fact that as one of the richest, most developed countries in the world we lag behind most other highly developed countries in nearly every educational statistic you can find. What drives me is the fact that kids have no say in this. They don’t get to advocate for changes in the education system. And they certainly have no say in their personal socioeconomic status. So, it’s actually easy to stay motivated for me because I am constantly driven to do better for our children.
What do you like to do in your free time, Ramsey?
I play a lot of volleyball. I’m very competitive. I love board and card games. I’m learning Italian. And I just started CrossFit.
If you were granted three wishes, what would they be and why?
End poverty and homelessness. Free education at every level, specifically university. Free healthcare. (All of which, I believe, are really just inalienable human rights.)
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
The biggest advice I have is: if you get bored, change something. Change your job. Change your nutrition/fitness. Change your city. Don’t like your current school? Look to transfer. Don’t get me wrong… while there are certainly times when you need to stick things out, I have found that oftentimes it makes just as much sense to change things up. Life is so, so short. Why waste it being complacent or bored? Move around! I’ve lived on 3 continents and in 5 major world cities. I don’t say that to brag. I say that to encourage young people to take chances and go learn from other cultures! My life has been forever shaped by those experiences.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
Vegetarianism. I won’t get preachy here, but if you actually do the nutritional research – there is no valid reason humans NEED to eat meat. You can get every single nutrient you need from a plant-based diet. Also: meat production is a MAJOR, direct cause of global warming. But I said I wouldn’t preach, so I’ll step back down from the pulpit now.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney. I use this idea in my math classroom a lot. Instead of raising your hand immediately and saying “I don’t get it,” focus first on the part of the problem you DO get. I work a lot with my kids on perseverance in problem-solving. As an adult, I have also never been a fan of meetings. Meetings are generally places where you sit around and talk about what you should be doing. I have always thought it’s better to just shut up, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Another version of this is: “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” Or “Actions always speak louder than words.” There, three for the price of one!
Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private lunch and why? He/she might just see this! 🙂
Impossible to pick just one. Issa Rae or Michelle Obama. There’s just something about the spirit of those women. They are beautiful inside and out. They are driven. They are unflappable. They are strong leaders. I’d just want to soak up their energy and listen to literally anything they have to say.
What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?
The mission of E.R.E. has always been to provide FREE tutoring to students who could otherwise never afford it. Tutoring is just ONE way that children of the rich and powerful get a leg up on the rest of the population. Working one-on-one outside of regular class time with an expert teacher can help students make enormous strides. My hope is that E.R.E. will one day be able to operate in every corner of this country, leveling the playing field just a little bit one tutoring session at a time.