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Dublin High English Teacher Ramany Kaplan Named ACOE Teacher of the Year for DUSD

May 18, 2022

Earlier this month, the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) announced the 2022 Teachers of the Year, as selected by Alameda County school districts and Regional Occupation Programs. In sum, there were 18 educators recognized. Dublin High School’s Ramany Kaplan was selected as the recipient for the Dublin Unified School District.

Ms. Kaplan been in the education field for 14 years and she is completing her fifth year at DHS. Throughout this time, she has pushed beyond the boundaries of her classroom to positively impact the lives of students in all four grades. In our conversation, she disclosed discovering a unique balance of employing her professional skills with the confidence of feeling empowered to try innovative strategies. On top of it all, Ramany also serves as an advisor to both the Freshman Mentor Program and the Dublin Shield Newspaper. Given her very full schedule, we were delighted to find a mutual time to sit down together.

DUSD Teacher of the Year, Ramany Kaplan, an educator at Dublin High School. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: With the breadth and depth of your academic background, did this satisfy your appetite for learning or was this meant to enhance your career? Or was it both?

Ramany Kaplan: “I would say that my academic path served both purposes; I am a life-long learner and I want to be able to put to use what I know so that I can create an impact. I have always known that I would be in the field of education and I wanted to be able to serve my community, hence I attended USC’s Rossier School of Education seven years ago and focused on responsive pedagogy and instructional practices. I am currently wrapping up my final full semester at CSU Fullerton in the Reading and Literacy M.S. program to earn my Reading and Literacy Specialist credential.  Literacy development and intervention support is an identified need at my school site and that in part pushed me to attend graduate school for the second time.”

OneDublin.org: Combining your work prior to coming to DUSD and your present responsibilities – there is a common thread. That parallel is the desire to focus on students that need more support of their skills. Please share the intricacies of the enhanced ninth grade intervention program that you launched this year. 

Kaplan: “Before I was in the classroom, I directed an after-school program for years in San Francisco and worked to address the needs of diverse learners in youth programs, my current goals really take me back to my roots in education because my heart has always been with those students who need a little bit of support to thrive. The implementation of intervention measure has been a work in progress and started in 2019, and with the learning loss that resulted from the pandemic, it became imperative. Various data points and grade reports impacted a school-wide needs discussion on how to support and improve student-academic success overall. An examination of disaggregated information revealed that specific groups needed more targeted support through data-driven practices. Much of the work I do includes collaborating with administrators to set a focus and goals for literacy support, assessing students’ reading and writing levels using a battery of assessments, and guiding a team of teachers in a professional learning community [PLC] that examines differentiated instruction in the classrooms to support the learning needs of diverse students.”

OneDublin.org:  You teach a fascinating course that is only available to seniors. With “Deconstructing Race”, please describe your process in developing the curriculum. Further, what were the outcomes that you desired for your students by taking this course. 

Kaplan: “Senior year can be challenging for some students in terms of focus and motivation, and Deconstructing Race is one of our senior English options that intended to provide students with a choice in what classes they could take, much like course offerings in college. While planning for the course, I wanted to allow students to utilize their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills they learned the previous three years in continued practice to reach mastery. I modeled Deconstructing Race after the seminar-style courses I took in college because I found that discourse is a valuable tool to learning, especially when we discuss the intricacies of race and personal experiences.

In the course, our seniors discuss, write, read, and research issues surrounding race as a social and cultural construct and how it manifests in American society. Seniors also learn to recognize, deepen their knowledge about, and apply their own individual understandings about how race impact identity formation. It isn’t a course that tells students that there is a certain way of thinking that is correct, rather it is a course that focuses on critical inquiry-gathering and evaluating multiple perspectives- while providing students social emotional support in an inclusive learning environment that respects all voices. A takeaway for my students is that a rich conversation is not one that will garner agreements on all fronts, it is one that gives us multiple access points of gaining knowledge.”

The library in Ramany Kaplan’s classroom. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: Now that you’ve had some time to reflect upon your recognition, please describe what it has meant to you and articulate how this motivates you to become an even better educator. 

Kaplan: “Earning the recognition as DHS teacher of the year and then as DUSD teacher of the year has been a humbling experience; I still feel that I can do more. I always see what I do as ongoing and as a work-in-progress, and I value the contributions of my colleagues. The recognition is definitely validating, and as a very introverted individual who has a hard time with being in the public light, I will continue to contribute to my school site as best as I can and with integrity, thoughtfulness, and empathy.”

OneDublin.org: Due to the pandemic, the past two years have been like no other. As you wrap up your fifth year at Dublin High School, what message of encouragement/optimism would you like to share with your peers and to the students?

Kaplan: “Returning to school has been tough all around for educators and students alike. What has continued to push me forward is staying focused on what really matters to me. Last week, one my colleagues in the English department wrote a question on the whiteboard of our lunchroom: We’re ALL going through it, what’s gettin’ you through it? It took me awhile to answer it and I feel that my response fluctuates with each passing day. However, what is central, is that I find being a teacher is rewarding, validating, and important. Being a teacher is not what I do but who I am, and each one of us has a purpose or drive that keeps us moving forward. Keeping that at the forefront is what will get us through the most challenging of situations.”

Most teachers would agree that they don’t ply one’s trade in pursuit of awards. For many, the profession can reward them with the knowledge that they are making a difference in many lives. With that said, this annual recognition serves as a platform to highlight exceptional work that is being done at each school and in each district. OneDublin.org would like to congratulate Ramany Kaplan on this well-deserved recognition. And we would like to thank her for opening  her classroom and heart for a brief moment in the sun.

The 33rd Annual Teacher of the Year Ceremony will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2022 at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts. Ticket purchasing information will be coming soon at the ACOE website: https://www.acoe.org/teacheroftheyear

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