By Dr. Carlos Ramirez
Throughout June, I had the great pleasure of working closely with Dr. Maggie Lopez, and on Monday, July 2, I started as the new superintendent of Eagle County Schools. This district has been in good hands with Lopez, and I look forward to continuing to build upon the legacy of those who served before me.
During my transition, I've been asked, "Why Eagle County?" The literary answer comes from John Muir: "The mountains are calling, and I must go." I truly do feel that way about this gorgeous valley.
But, of course, there's more. As I looked at the position of superintendent here, I read all about this valley, from the summer festivals to biking to world-class skiing to the Eagle River and sport fishing; there truly is something for everyone. But what I've already learned — not from my reading, but from the many wonderful community members, employees and students I've already had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with — is that the Eagle River Valley truly is a dynamic community where students, teachers, schools and education are valued and celebrated.
A first-grade student, smiling ear to ear, told me she used to be shy when she read to her peers, but then her teacher taught her to be brave. A third-grade student shared the International Baccalaureate attribute of being an open-minded learner and how important it is to learn from others. A middle-school student recently said she has friends she can count on for anything, while a high school junior told me he's involved in student government and athletics and has plans to be a pediatrician.
Finally, a 2012 graduate, now in banking, told me he returned to Eagle County to give back to his community and so that he could raise his children here. Each of these students clearly demonstrated excitement and love for their schools. To me, that is incredibly exciting.
The district's strategic plan is built on the idea and practice of preparing global-ready graduates who will have the courage to follow and act on their dreams. Innovation is in our DNA. We have a variety of programs and partnerships focused on preparing our students how to think critically, act locally and advocate globally. We are truly focused on preparing students for college and careers. I am thrilled to be able to work with our school board and lead the district as we work to achieve our goals.
When I look around, I see beauty everywhere. I also see a community that invests in all kids and education. A recent mill levy and bond passage supported needed infrastructure and financial support needed to build world-class learning environments for all students, competitive compensation systems for staff and needed staffing adjustments.
Additionally, we have many community-based organizations that support our students by providing wrap-around services, social-emotional support and competitive athletic opportunities. The Eagle River Valley is a beautiful place to work hard and play hard.
My wife, Misa, and I have five children: Caleb, our youngest, will be a sophomore at Eagle Valley High School; Sophia starts this fall as a freshman at Colorado State University in Fort Collins; Jared will be a senior studying computer science at the University of Arkansas; Sam, also a senior, studies music production and engineering at Jacob's School of Music at Indiana University; finally, AJ works as a live music/sound engineer in Los Angeles.
They'll all be here in a few weeks to celebrate our daughter's 18th birthday and to get acquainted with our new community. It all does come back to John Muir: The mountains called, and here we are.
Carlos Ramirez, Ed.D., is the former superintendent of Eagle County Schools.