- Sponsorship -

‘I’ve Got to Be an Example’

Immigrant, School Liaison Registers to Vote

Jaime Ramirez is “not a political guy,” but he plans to vote Nov. 8 for the first time as an American.

An immigrant from Mexico, Ramirez registered to vote the day before the deadline. A U.S. citizen since 1997, Ramirez, 50, said he wasn’t compelled to register until this year, but now he wants to serve as an example for other Hispanic community members to practice what is their right.

Ramirez is the community liaison for Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, working to meet the needs of families in the one-square-mile, mostly Hispanic, school district. He said he can relate to many community members, some of whom have limited English skills, who are afraid to register because they are unsure what it involves. “I was nervous,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to do it before. At least I can contribute one vote to choose the right president.”

At Godfrey-Lee, Ramirez, who immigrated at age 21, works to connect parents with schools, emphasizing the need to attend conferences and to become involved in their children’s education. He helps out wherever parents and students gather, at coat drives, district-wide events and celebrations, conferences and the soccer field. He is also the high school’s varsity soccer coach.

He sees his role in the district as a great way to encourage others to vote. “A lot of parents see I do good in the community,” he said. “It’s time for me to do something nice and teach the parents in the community… I’ve got to be an example.”

Jaime is interviewed on the radio station La Mejor GR after registering to vote
Jaime is interviewed on the radio station La Mejor GR after registering to vote

According to 2016 information from the Pew Research Center, based in Washington, D.C., Latinos historically have been consistently underrepresented in the electorate, compared with their share of eligible voters or the overall population. In the current survey, 49 percent of all Latinos say they are “absolutely certain” they are registered to vote. That compares with 69 percent of blacks and 80 percent of whites who say they are certain.

Ramirez shared that message on Wyoming-based radio station La Mejor GR, where he also works. Jaime was featured in a podcast while registering at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, in Grand Rapids. “It takes, like, 10 minutes at the most,” he said of registering.

All he needed was his driver’s license and social security number. “For me, it’s a pleasure and an honor to get registered to vote,” he said.

Ramirez said he inspired four friends to register, and talked to students on the soccer team about voting when they’re old enough. “Encourage your parents to become a citizen so they can do it, too,” he told them.

Carol Lautenbach, Godfrey-Lee Public School assistant superintendent of teaching learning and accountability, said Ramirez stands out as an example in the community.

“Mr. Ramirez is a role model for students; he encourages the kids he coaches to show up for practice, to try and to work as a team,” she said. “By registering to vote, he’s also a role model to adults by encouraging them to show up and be part of the democratic process, a privilege that many may not have experienced before.”

CONNECT

SNN Feature on Jaime Ramirez

La Mejor GR radio

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

This student leader aspires to inspire

His advice: seize all opportunities, reach out to others...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

‘We’re educators; we always make it work’

Kelly VanDyke’s roots in Kenowa Hills reach back to her days as a student teacher there in the Resource Room. Entering her eleventh school year as a special education teacher at Central Elementary, she is preparing for new students, safety protocols and classroom learning, reimagined...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Supply kits for online learners help ensure student success

Teachers find creative ways to get resources into students hands that align with curriculum...

Virtual community meeting Thursday to discuss district bond proposal

An online community meeting Thursday will give voters information about the Nov. 3 ballot proposal asking for a $17.79 million bond issue...

Ready or not, school year begins as leaders adopt plans to teach, protect students

With most of Kent County’s public school districts opening next week, superintendents talk about their plans to educate students while trying to keep them safe from an unpredictable virus...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS