Inspiration for Both Students and the LGBTQ (COME UP WITH A BETTER HEADLINE IF YOU CAN PLZ)

Toni Hunt

As both a teacher and a student, Brittanee Ramallo, a senior integrated language arts major, shares her views on family, racism, the justice system and students in heated debates.


Ramallo moved from New York to Kent, Ohio to pursue her love in criminal justice, but after beginning her core classes, she couldn’t stop thinking about teaching. She said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher, similar to her mother, and when the opportunity to teach a creative writing class in the Summit County Juvenile Detention Facility surfaced, she jumped at it. She said the position was “a little bit of both worlds.”


“I taught an (hour-long) class and I loved it,” Ramallo said. “I have eliminated that from (the) possibilities of what I would want to do because I didn’t have a lot of time with them.”


Ramallo said her ultimate goal is to impact her future students by not only teaching them, but by building relationships with every child. She said it is important to lay that kind of foundation.


“It is amazing how complex kids are,” Ramallo said. “When you’re in the classroom, you’re with these kids more than their parents are… Teachers are such a lifeline for kids.”


Teaching middle school students (subhead)


During the fall semester of 2015, Ramallo taught English to middle school students at Stanton Middle School. Patricia McComas, her cooperating teacher, said Ramallo’s interactions with the students exceeded the school’s expectations.


“She came to school on our first day of class, which isn’t a requirement (for student teachers),” McComas said. “From the beginning, she just jumped right in. She was helping kids at locker combinations… she helped kids with their schedules. From the beginning, she took an interest in being involved.”


Growing up, Ramallo saw one person who was always dedicated to their job: her mother. Her mom is an elementary teacher and treats her students like her own children, as well as being Ramallo’s role model.


“She puts her students first,” Ramallo said. “She is just amazing. I think she is the picture of a perfect teacher. She goes above and beyond, she cooperates with all her students and their parents (and) she gives out her cell phone number at the beginning of the year to her kids’ parents.”


Ramallo said the amount of dedication her mom has for the students mirrors her own passion with her involvement with students at Stanton Middle School.


“I had a really great semester, it was a lot better than I expected,” Ramallo said. “It was a great atmosphere. If I could go back, I would spend more time (teaching) in sixth and seventh (grade) and get to know them better.”


McComas said Ramallo is great with the students and is also efficient at creating coursework for the students.


“People tend to talk at kids and not with the kids,” McComas said. “Brittanee does a really good job at talking with them and listening to them… She clearly put a lot of thought into her lesson plans.”


LGBTQ Support (subhead)


Ramallo said her aspirations of becoming an English teacher for all students is something she dreamt of since she was a young girl. However, she said having her girlfriend Katie Bernola, a junior criminology & justice studies major, and being openly gay will cause roadblocks in her career path.


“There’s always that fear that people aren’t going to accept you,” Ramallo said. “If you work in an atmosphere where people don’t respect you it’s going to be that much harder to be successful. In addition to that, you’re dealing with parents.”


Gabrielle Cooper,director of Diversity Initiatives of PRIDE! and a senior human development and family studies major, said someone’s sexuality can affect their jobs, especially in Ohio.


“It’s legal to fire someone for being LGBTQ in the state,” Cooper said. “Many people choose different careers if they want to be a teacher because that’s a very touchy subject, (and)  because a lot of parents don’t want their child being taught by someone in the (LGBTQ) community.”


Although Ramallo knows the difficulties she is facing in the educational field, people like Cooper continue to encourage community members to continue pursuing their life goals.


“I want LGBTQ members to always follow their dreams and to continue to teach,” Cooper said. “People in the community can teach others (LGBTQ) terms, or teach others how to be open to new things and bring different perspectives.”


Future plans


Ramallo will be graduating college in May, 2016, and she will be looking for new job opportunities. Ramallo said she doesn’t have a specific location where she wants to live, but she said staying close to her family and girlfriend are huge factors when thinking of the future.


“I don’t have any desire to go anywhere because I feel like that would limit me, personally.” Ramallo said. “If I got a job opportunity in California, I don’t know if I can take it because family is important to me. I have to put things into consideration.”

Bernola said the two of them have already began talking about the possibility of moving out of state together to explore their career options.

Toni Hunt

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