Dana E. Ramey, M.A ’99

Señor Ramey

What won’t Rhode Island’s 2010 Teacher of the Year Dana E. Ramey do for love of teaching?

Hard to say. Señor Ramey, as his students know him, has taught Spanish at Middletown High School for the past 13 years. He is guided by the philosophy that to learn a language one must immerse oneself in the culture that generated it. To that end, Ramey has developed a curriculum that includes cooking, dancing, history, and participation in a “World Language Fair,” to spur students’ love of foreign languages.

“The key is getting kids to want what we want for them,” Ramey said. “It’s so important for people to understand the value and importance of studying world language. It’s such a global community nowadays.”

Ramey’s diverse interests may be the key to his success. After college, he spent two years at Nature’s Classroom in New Hampshire, where he alternately taught and directed environmental programs for middle-school-aged children. While there he developed a love of storytelling and singing, which led him to a career change: folk rock musician. He and his band played a number of venues, including the Living Room and Lupo’s, both Providence clubs.

“We made a living at it,” Ramey said, “but then it was time to go back to our other careers.”

Ramey returned to teaching in the 1980s. In 2003, he taught in Mexico for a year through the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program. He also holds the distinction of being the first Rhode Island teacher to receive National Board Certification in World Languages.

Ever the educator, Ramey intends to leverage this latest honor to bring attention to his discipline. “I’m in love with what I teach, and I absolutely love sharing it with others,” he said. “Language study helps to break down barriers and opens people’s hearts and minds to other things. Education is the answer.”

—Marybeth Reilly-McGreen