Getting to know Yesenia Cardoza Ramirez

Yesenia Cardoza Ramirez
Director | Family and Community Engagement in Early Learning
Teaching and Learning
Years in the position: 4
Years in Dallas ISD: 17

What do you do in your position?
I oversee the prekindergarten registration and enrollment for the district, and I work with family engagement partnerships in the community. Last year, we enrolled almost 13,000 3- and 4-year-old students. Part of my work involves creating the systems that help families register and supporting the campuses so they can support parents.

This year, everything was online. The form has been online in the past, but parents had to go to campus and bring the required documentation, and the campus would let them know if they qualified. Because of the closure due to the pandemic, we made modifications so parents could upload all documents before submitting the application. We are processing everything centrally and still communicating with our families. Families can visit to apply and can call the hotline—(214) 932-7735—if they have any questions or if they need our help to walk them through the process.

What do you enjoy most/what is your favorite thing about what you do in your position?
Working with families. That was also my favorite part when I was a principal prior to this. Even when I was a teacher, my passion has been to be able to help parents so they are able to educate the kids but also to know what is needed. I love connecting with parents, collaborating, showing them activities. Every role I have been in from being a sub to now I have enjoyed working with parents. Part of it is because my parents are from Mexico and my mom didn’t even finish middle school. They weren’t really involved in school beyond paying dues to PTA so they never knew I was dyslexic. As a single mom, I had to learn how to support my son if I couldn’t go to the school. That’s why working with parents— get them to come to the classroom, to learn about how they can be involved, what they can learn themselves—it started to become a passion for me.

What was your favorite cafeteria food growing up?
I went to Dallas ISD schools and our kids graduated or are currently going to Dallas ISD schools. My favorite one was these burritos that used to be wrapped in plastic. It was just meat and cheese, but they were great. Fiesta salad was another favorite.

What is the best advice ever given to you by a teacher?
My science teacher in high school. He was really a teacher who had a passion for teaching kids. I remember him talking to me when I was struggling, being a Hispanic female in school. He told me education is key to anything you want in the future and no one can ever take a degree away from you. He was really passionate about that. It took me 10 years to get my first degree and a year for my master’s.

When you take notes during a meeting—paper or electronic? Or is it all in your head?
Electronic. I’m dyslexic, so I hate writing.

What is your favorite app or the app you first open every day?
Pinterest. I look at it every day, and say to myself, “I wish I had time. I would make that.”

What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Having a sense of humor and being there to be supportive.

What is your idea of happiness?
For me, happiness is family. I think the coronavirus has brought us more together and given us more time to be together. Whether my parents, husband or kids, being able to spend that time with each other has made me be happy. If kids do chores, it’s even better.

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