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Noelia Ramirez

Description: Introduction music plays while the blue OTAN logo appears on a black screen. The music continues as California Adult Education Students Succeed 2010 is shown on screen with a logo. A picture of Noelia Ramirez from Soledad Community Education Center is shown. She has black short hair and is wearing a black sleeveless top.

Description: As music plays Noelia is shown in a video clip talking and laughing with two other women. Noelia's hair is just above her shoulders. She is wearing black eyeglasses and wearing a black blouse. The screen changes to Laura Manzo sitting in front of a book shelf. She has black long curly hair and is wearing a black top.

Laura Manzo, Noelia's sister:She was a handful. She was always full of energy and very determined and very strong willed and I really admired that about her.

Description: Noelia Ramirez, California Department of Education, is sitting in front of a book shelf. She is wearing red eyeglasses and a black blazer. She has a white pearl necklace on. While she speaks three school pictures of Noelia as a young girl are shown.

Noelia: I was just always learning, always curious and I had somebody to bounce things back at home so every day I looked forward just to going to school and so when they were divorced, I hated school. All of a sudden, you know all of the strict upbringing I had, just, you know, all of a sudden I could do whatever I want and I was only I think 12 or 13. So I didn't have to go home, read, or do homework. So it started early. I think it started when I was in 6th grade. That's when I just started, that was it. I didn't want to go to school anymore.

Description: Linda Coyne has short, auburn hair. She's wearing a periwinkle blazer. She has a pink flower on her right lapel. She is wearing a long pearl necklace with drop pearl earrings. She also has a smaller silver stone necklace on. She is sitting at her desk.

Linda Coyne, Director (ret), Soledad Community Education Center: She was very bright, extremely bright and so often times kids that are really bright just don't want to put up with a lot of change and a lot of turmoil because somehow they know that they can do better.

Description: While Laura speaks a childhood photo of the two sisters is shown. They are both wearing white lace dresses.

Laura: I kind of stopped hanging out with her for a while and I did lose touch of where she was until one point I, you know, we sat down, I'm like you know 'what are you, what are you doing? You know, I'm almost done with school. I'm going to graduate and you're not. You know, you're not taking this serious, you know, what are your thoughts? What are you going to do with yourself?'

Description: While Noelia speaks a photo of the sisters in their late teens is shown.

Noelia: When she asked me 'what are you going to do, you know, stay in this town and you're just going to do hair, you're just going to play music?' and she says 'you just can't do that, you know, you just have to go do something else with yourself' and I just thought about it and I thought 'you're right, I don't want to stay here'. I was sick of living there. I was sick of everything. I was sick of my life style and I said you're right. I'm just going to go to school and see if I can move away.

Description: Noelia is shown in a classroom with two ladies. Noelia is wearing khaki slacks and a black shirt. She is resting her hand on a stack of text books that sit on a table.

Noelia: I started off with independent study because I didn't want to be in a classroom. I couldn't handle being in a classroom. High school was horrifying for me; a horrifying environment.

Description: Alice Wilson has short blonde hair. She is wearing a light blue collared shirt with a long-sleeved sweater over it. She has gold trimmed eyeglasses. She is sitting at a desk while speaking. While she speaks, a video is shown of Alice talking with Noelia and Noelia is holding a vase of beautiful purple lavender stalks.

Alice Wilson, Independent Study Teacher, Soledad Community Education Center: They would have a van, an RV that would go around to the students' home. Teaching in an RV and one-on-one, no matter how terrible the person you heard about them before, they were always, had what they wanted when you were in that van situation, that one-on-one.

Noelia: And I remember when she first came I thought 'oh my god, this is so cool'. You know, they come to you and she was my math and science teacher. So it was sort of back again like the one-on-one that I had as growing up as a child.

Description: Sarah Coberly is sitting at the teacher's desk. She is wearing a yellow blouse accented with a multi-colored earth-tone scarf wrapped loosely around her neck. She has short brown hair. A video clip is shown during the interview of Sarah sitting in a chair with Noelia standing next to her. There are math books on a bookshelf behind them and posters on the wall. The ladies are talking and laughing.

Sarah Coberly, Independent Study Teacher, Soledad Community Education Center: At our kind of school someone like Noelia is recognized for what she is and doesn't have to fit into the mold of the normal classroom where they would get lost in the shuffle and here it's like 'yes', you know, and one can individually support whatever paths they seem to express.

Description: While Noelia speaks, the image shifts between her current interview and an old video of her graduation ceremony. A still photo of her in a cap and gown is also shown.

Noelia: That day that I went through that graduation and they called my name for that diploma, I mean you saw the picture, I look so, I was mad at them. I said 'how could you embarrass me like this' you know. They gave me a scholarship and I was just angry at them and I think I was giving them dirty looks the whole entire time. That's what we laughed about when we had the reunion, you know, that I was so angry, so mad at them.

linda: She went to the local community college, Hartnell College, here and then continued her life and now she's our state consultant at the State Department of Education, which is so totally cool for us.

Description: Debra Jones is interviewed in front of a book shelf that has books, a basket, and apples on it. Debra has long, straight brown hair. She has a printed blouse on that is multi-colored.

Description: A video is shown of Noelia and others talking and laughing while Debra and Laura speak.

Debra Jones, Administrator, Adult Education Office, California Department of Education: She applied for the job. I had known her when she worked for the Ed Options Unit. She was an analyst. She was young. She had fire about her. Eventually she said 'well I know that region really well. I use to live there' and I said 'Oh that's wonderful'. She said 'well I know it better than you think I know. I actually went to the adult school there and graduated' and I was just shocked and amazed. Here she had come full circle.

Description: While Laura's interview continues a video is shown of Noelia talking with school staff.

Laura: Adult education is something that's near and dear to her heart because she is a product of that system and now working at it from the other side gives her an advantage to be able to help students that were in a position that she was in, in the past.

Debra: She brings empathy. She brings understanding; she's been there herself, she knows what a hard journey our adult students have. And now that she's in a leadership role she also knows about the bureaucracy and the balance of bureaucracies and implementation and what it really means to be in the front lines. She was a student. She's all about doing what's right for our students and that's a breath of fresh air.

Description: While background music plays, a video of Noelia speaking at a graduation ceremony is shown. Noelia is standing at a podium with a microphone. Behind her is a white banner that says CELEBRATING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. The banner is trimmed with a strand of gold beads with stars. Sitting in the bleachers behind the banner are stduents wearing white caps and gowns. Noelia is giving her final interview segment while the music and video play.

Noelia: Through that position I could visit sites, you know. I've been told I could talk at schools and reach out to, you know, some of the young learners that they still have and be able to talk to them about my experience and give them faith in themselves because when, you know, that system doesn't work for you and you have somebody that, that can tell you 'hey, look at, this is what I did and I did it my way and you know, you can do it too.'

Special Thanks to: Soledad Adult School, Soledad Unified School District and Denise Estrella, Director/Principal.

Produced by OTAN 2010; Producer – Penny Pearson; Director – Douglas Rennie