Faces Of Nantucket: Joseline Ramirez

Waverly Brannigan •

FON Joseline Ramirez 9
Joseline Ramirez at Nantucket Elementary School. Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

Years on island: 21

Favorite things about Nantucket: The winters, the tight-knit community and how it comes together, all of the walking trails

Joseline Ramirez has been an integral part of Nantucket’s educational community for nearly six years. Born in Boston, she moved to Nantucket when she was eight years old and has called the island home ever since.

Ramirez’s path to becoming an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher started with her work as an interpreter and translator for the school district. After graduating from Nantucket High School in 2014, she began her undergraduate career at Sacred Heart University but transferred to Ida College after her first semester to be closer to home. Still missing the island, Ramirez decided to transfer to Southern New Hampshire University to complete her undergraduate degree and move back to Nantucket, where she ultimately completed her undergraduate degree online in child psychology.

Ramirez is a self-proclaimed island girl, expressing her love for Nantucket and the community. She has always enjoyed island winters and the numerous walking trails, some of the many things that inspired her to remain on the island.

“I love the community and how close people come together…and support each other. I think that I’m just very lucky to live on this island,” she says.

FON Joseline Ramirez 2
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

While finishing her degree online, Ramirez started subbing at the school in 2018, which led her to realize she wanted to be a teacher. To move up the ranks, she worked in the English learner department as a bilingual support specialist for two years and then became an assistant teacher in kindergarten for another two years. When a position opened up in the ESL department, she applied for the position, with this year marking her second year in the role as she works with students from kindergarten through second grade as they navigate learning English.

“I started off as an interpreter or translator for the district…and I started subbing for the school, Ramirez explained. “That’s when I landed this job working in the ESL department…translating documents for the district and also interpreting meetings for parents,” she elaborates.

Ramirez enjoys getting to work with all the English language learners, especially because she is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. Most of Ramirez’s students are from El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, and Hispanic students now represent 47 percent of Nantucket Elementary School’s enrollment. Ramirez herself is Salvadoran, allowing her to connect with the students even further, especially because she entered the Nantucket school system when she was in second grade – the same year as many of her students.

FON Joseline Ramirez 3
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

“It’s just really fun to get to work with students who come here from another country that are just trying to learn the language and develop the skills,” she says.

Beyond just learning the language, Ramirez emphasizes the importance of students maintaining their culture and native language while learning English. ESL classes allow students who are just learning English to enter a space with peers who also speak their native language, and Ramirez sees the importance of freedom, both within the classroom space and at home to keep the children feeling comfortable.

She encourages parents to continue speaking Spanish at home, especially because children are constantly exposed to English at school and in the community. Speaking Spanish at home, she said, will allow the students to eventually be bilingual, further benefiting them in the future.

“Kids will have many more opportunities when they’re older if they’re bilingual,” Ramirez says. “I’m always like, please keep the Spanish and the English.”

Ramirez’s dedication to her community extends beyond the classroom. She has also taught English to adults at the Nantucket Community School, often teaching the parents of her students. These classes remind her of the commitment of English language learners and the Latino community especially.

“I had parents come right after work,” she recalls. “They were still in their work clothes, but they showed up… They’re committed and trying.”

FON Joseline Ramirez 6
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

Ramirez’s role as a bridge between the school and the non-English-speaking community is crucial. Not only does she help students learn a new language, but she also helps parents navigate the education system and encourages them to voice their concerns.

“Within our culture, our parents see teachers as very well respected and you never tell a teacher what to do,” Ramirez explains. “It was very important for me to say, hey, you have a voice. It doesn’t matter if you’re not from here. Go and share your concerns, ask questions, it’s okay to do that,” she says.

The diversity in Nantucket’s classrooms is growing, with half of the students being English learners. Jocelyn sees this as an opportunity to create a more inclusive and understanding community through the young people on the island. Ramirez has also just received her master’s degree from Merrimack College in early childhood education, which she intends to use to continue serving the island community to the best of her ability.

“We are really shaping the future. [The kids] are just so young, they're sponges, they're learning, and they learn in different ways. And I was like, wow, I truly love this job. And I feel like teachers really do just deserve all the recognition there,” Ramirez says.

FON Joseline Ramirez 7
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen
Loading Ad
Loading Ad
Loading Ad

Current People