Interview with Keepers of the Culture Member Eric Ramirez

Paloma Parades Jaquez (right) and Brandon Aviles (left) meeting with Rolando Diaz III in a Keepers of the Culture meeting. Behind them, Counseling in Schools counselor works with another KOC group.

Paloma Parades Jaquez (right) and Brandon Aviles (left) meeting with Rolando Diaz III in a Keepers of the Culture meeting. Behind them, Counseling in Schools counselor works with another KOC group.

Paloma Paredes Jaquez sat down with a current Keepers of the Culture (KOC) member who has a Promise Card of his own.

Paloma: When did you begin to work with KOC?

Eric: Last year, in 9th grade.

Paloma: And why do you think you were chosen for KOC at the time?

Eric: Because I got in a fight my freshman year, I got suspended for 3 months and when I came back I promised to change so I got a promise card.

Paloma: And you’re in KOC now.

Eric: Yea, in tenth grade I came back to KOC, and saw that people really wanted to help me change. So I thought if they could do it, I could do it for others too. I began to come more often to KOC and see the work that was happening, until I asked to join.

Paloma: What else inspired you to want to join?

Eric: People in KOC helped me change - I wanted to be able to be part of that change and help others. I wanted to help make the school a better place to learn for others because KOC did that for me.

Paloma: So then, what is KOC to you?

Eric: It’s a helpful family. They have helped me with my grades, and overall become a better person.

Paloma: And have you seen any change in the school?

Eric: Of course, I see less people in the hallways, more in class.

Paloma: What about classrooms?

Eric: I see more people doing their work. Work Time and Unison Reading are happening more throughout classrooms now. And there’s less playing around.

Keepers of the Culture was put in place to help kids like Eric. It doesn't always have to be about behavior that gets in the way of learning, but it could be an academic need that a student has. It has been a support system amongst students to help support one another in our school community.

A meeting is completely ran by a group of students. The students take the time to get to know the student, work with them closely so that the promise cards can be as detailed as possible. A meeting can go as follows:

Maria Rosario and Chantal Feliz review student responsibilities with Jose Manuel Salce Morillo

Maria Rosario and Chantal Feliz review student responsibilities with Jose Manuel Salce Morillo

Chantal Feliz and Azra Muratovic discuss a successful strategy for growth

Chantal Feliz and Azra Muratovic discuss a successful strategy for growth

  • The student talks about what’s getting in their way of learning in the classrooms. Such as cutting class, arguing, not doing their work, etc. We try to get as specific as possible, by having them list everything they do and why they do it.
  • We then go over the Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Student Learning (the Blue Book) with them, and have them read out loud their student responsibilities. We try to familiarize them with it so that they can compare their behaviors with their responsibilities.

  • We ask them if they want to change, and have them promise it out loud. We’ve read studies that prove that if you promise something out loud you’re more likely to do it, than if you promise it to yourself in your head.

  • After they have made a promise, we help help them figure out things they can commit to so that they are able to keep their promise. Whether it’s sitting with specific people to help them stay focused in class, finding short cuts to class to be on time, stopping themselves from an argument, etc.

The students don’t always tackle each behavior all together, sometimes they may just focus on one because it takes time to change. But once they have begun to see the change in themselves, most want to spread it around like Eric has. They want to help the school become a better place to learn for others too.