Dr. Richard Ramos is set to take the reins of the Miami Unified School District. Photo by Y.Vargas/GMT
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Miami Unified School District sees big changes as Dr. Richard Ramos moves into the superintendent’s office

The legacy of Miami Unified School District Superintendent Sherry Dorathy is visible throughout the multi-school campus, from the new murals and fresh paint to new roofs and a rehabilitated football field and even in the behavior of students.

As the longtime local educator prepares to step down after 11 years at the helm, she will be leaving the district in the capable hands of a regional native who intends to take the foundation Dorathy laid to the next level.

When the current school year ends, Dr. Richard Ramos will be promoted from his position as Director of Innovation and Learning to begin his tenure as the District’s new Superintendent.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Ramos says. “I have had a variety of experiences over the course of time and I’m looking to share those experiences with teachers and our stakeholders.”

Ramos grew up in Globe on East Bailey Street and in Pioneer Hills, attending Noftsger Hill School until 1980 when the Globe District built Copper Rim Elementary.

Although he only attended Copper Rim for one year, Ramos was part of its first graduating class and he continued in the GUSD through graduation at Globe High School.

“That’s something you always look forward to when you’re from Globe: You look forward to going to Globe High School because it’s such a historical school,” Ramos says. “There is a mystique that comes with that, so of course I went to Globe High School.”

As he was working toward his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University, in order to “give back to the community” Ramos did his student teaching at Globe Junior High.

When he graduated college in December 1994, a job opened up at what is now Lee Kornegay Intermediate and thus his career in education began in the MUSD.

“One of the things that I recognized very early on in my career is that I worked with a lot of people who knew me as a child,” Ramos says. “Because of that, I felt like I didn’t have much flexibility to grow and develop with my own ideas and my own character, so I went and explored job opportunities in Phoenix.”

For the next few years, Ramos worked as a teacher in several Phoenix school districts, including the Roosevelt and Isaac districts, teaching fourth grade initially, but moving to seventh and eighth grades his second year where he says he “found his niche.”

In 2001, though, Ramos left the classroom and became assistant principal in the Madison School District, after earning his masters degree from Northern Arizona University.

“In Madison, I probably gained the most knowledge because of the rigor that they had in their system,” Ramos says. “It was the first of its kind, where students in a gifted program went to school alongside students that were in general education and we worked really hard on integration.”

In 2005, he was promoted to principal of the school, but after the financial crash of 2009, Ramos decided to leave education completely and embarked on an odyssey that would take him across the country to a brief gig as a bank manager.

“I left the profession in 2011 and went to Connecticut to experience what it was like to live on the east coast, to experience four seasons and see if I could make it in education out there,” Ramos says. “It was very hard for me to get a job in New England, so I became a branch manager of a bank. That was a really incredible experience.”

But in December 2012, the Sandy Hook school shooting took place less than 30 minutes from where he was living, which made Ramos question his career decision.

He moved back to Arizona in 2013 and for the next six years was principal at the Littleton Elementary School District in Avondale.

After returning to ASU for his doctorate in Leadership and Innovation, Ramos went back to the Roosevelt District in 2019 as Executive Director of Innovation and Learning. Last year, he decided to move back home as he began to see his career reaching its latter stages.

Dr. Sherry Dorathy (left) will step into a new role in the MUSD after leading the district for 11 years. Dr. Richard Ramos, a local product of the local school system, will take over as Superintendent in the coming school year. Photos by Y.Vargas/GMT

So now Ramos, a third-generation Globe native who turned 52 at the beginning of May, will seek to continue the stability in the administrative offices of the MUSD and build on the successes of recent years.

“I’ve been able to engage the entire community, from students, teachers, parents, as well as community partners, in a strategic planning process,” Ramos says. “We now have a strategic plan, a five year document that gives us a North Star to guide our work. It’s in four areas we’re going to work to improve: Academic quality, culture and communication, safe and innovative learning environments, and community engagement.”

Dorathy, who moved to the Globe-Miami area 33 years ago, worked throughout her educational career in the San Carlos and Miami school systems. During her time at MUSD, she steered the district through fires, floods and a global pandemic that has had an adverse effect on an entire generation of students and staff.

In the two decades prior to Dorathy’s tenure, MUSD had five superintendents and eight principals. That turnover changed under Dorathy’s leadership, as MHS was led for 10 years by Principal Glen Lineberry, who retired last year.

Upon her retirement, Dorathy will continue to work part-time for the MUSD as a grants manager.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the past several years,” Dorathy says. “Our business manager, Lisa Marquez—we make a wonderful team—has really been at home with me to get things done that needed to be done, and were neglected for a while. I feel like the facilities and some of the academics and the safety aspect of it are much better than what they were when we first came in.”

In addition to her new duties, Dorathy intends to use her new-found free time spending more time with her family and hopes to do some traveling in a camper that has not had much use as of yet.

She also hopes to follow through with the creation of an innovation lab that will benefit both students and teachers and continue some of the programs she began, such as Kids at Hope, which provides youth services for students from substance abuse programs to mental health services and a preschool/child care program funded by First Things First.

She called it “unusual” to be able to stick around and see her projects through, and feels like it’s a “sweet deal.”

Ultimately, she is grateful to the community that has given her such a rich and satisfying career.

“I want to thank everybody, because I feel like every person that I’ve run into has made an impact on my life,” Dorathy says. “I hope I’ve made a little bit of an impact on their live and have a true love for the kids. They may not know that, but I really do.”

About David Abbott

Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.

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