By Raúl Padilla
KIPP Colorado Schools alum & summer communications intern
This month, we’re highlighting Salvador Ramirez, a social justice and social activism teacher at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School (KDCHS). In his role at KDCHS, Mr. Ramirez works closely with students to help them identify and fight systems of oppression.
As a teacher, Mr. Ramirez says he purposefully leaves himself vulnerable to his own experiences to be able to help students see themselves in him. He wants students to be open about their struggles, which helps him build strong bonds with each one of them.
Mr. Ramirez has a strong belief in Team and Family, which can be seen in his words of encouragement for his current and former students. He encourages his students to always “keep pushing forward” no matter how many odds are stacked against them. He also wants to let students know that “they are not alone,” and that there will always be someone that is willing to help them. And Mr. Ramirez believes that one must “speak, even if your voice shakes” because every single student has power within their own words. By bringing these beliefs to his classroom each day, he aims to empower and push his students to reach new levels of understanding.
Mr. Ramirez says that he believes KIPP represents opportunity for both teachers and students: the opportunity to teach, develop, support, and prepare students to be successful to and through college and in life. He first started as a student-teacher at KDCHS and soon became a 9th grade literature teacher. One of his greatest passions has always been English; however, he soon realized he wanted to leave a bigger effect on students than what literature and its teachings allowed. He worked to create the first KDCHS social justice class and started teaching social activism as well.
These classes have allowed Mr. Ramirez to meet one of his purposes in life, which is to fight the long-lasting systems of oppression that exist all over the world. He does this by giving knowledge to students about self-identity, historical impacts of these invisible systems of oppression, societal positions based on different identities (sex, race, disabilities, age, ethnicity, gender, etc.), and prejudices that may exist based on these different identities.
Mr. Ramirez says he values education over everything. As a student, he only began to learn about the systems of oppression that have affected him all his life once he attended the University of Denver. As a social justice advocate, he wants to make sure people learn about these systems of oppression much sooner. Not only does he want to teach students, but he also aspires to train other teachers on how to best teach and support students, especially students of color. One of his goals is to acquire a Ph.D. to be able to better spread the knowledge needed to help fight oppression and help open the doors for more Hispanic students to follow his footsteps and prove anything is possible.