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Danny Ramos

College: Hunter College
Awards: Math for America Fellowship, 2014

Teaching from Experience

Danny Ramos experienced the insult of low expectations in high school. A counselor mistakenly warned that he wouldn’t succeed in honors physics, then erred just as badly by admitting him to AP calculus only on academic probation. Thanks to a supportive teacher, he scored a 5 in calc, the highest grade.

A child of Mexican immigrants and the first in his family to graduate from college, Ramos (Hunter College, 2014) intends to keep these experiences in mind when he, himself, stands in front of the whiteboard as a New York City public high school mathematics teacher.

He is preparing for this career with the help of a rare Math for America (MƒA) Fellowship. This highly competitive award pays for a three-semester master’s in secondary mathematics education at City College. It also provides a $100,000 stipend spread over five years, including the first four years of teaching, in addition to the regular teacher’s salary. This long-term payout aims to retain new teachers during the stressful first years in the classroom, when attrition is highest.

Ramos understands his high school counselor’s hesitation. “I could never explain myself when the teacher asked how I got an answer. I’d say, ‘I just saw it.’ I was not the best student. My studying was explaining math to my friends, and I think I’m good at explaining now.”

He credits his AP math teacher at New Utrecht High School, Dieudonne Egotanda, with having prepared him for the AP and college level math. “Before the exam, he said I could get a 5 and I said, whoa – maybe a 3 or a 4. I wasn’t used to somebody expecting so much for me. He prepared me well and gave me the confidence that I needed. He’s the kind of math teacher I want to be.”

After high school, Ramos tutored and taught math, English and science in after-school and summer programs run by the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association. “That’s where I started seeing myself as a teacher.” At Hunter, he tutored at the Mary P. Dolciani Math Learning Center and was selected for the Thomas Hunter Honors Program.

His love of math started at home. “When I was a young kid, my dad would make me memorize and recite multiplication tables randomly in both English and Spanish,” he recalls. “From the beginning, I was trying to figure out a pattern.