Coston Elementary has always been home to third grade teacher Laura Ramos. From growing up in the neighborhood to attending elementary school there and becoming a paraprofessional, receptionist, administrative assistant, student teacher and now a teacher, it’s where she belongs.
“It’s about representation. I came from this neighborhood,” Ramos said. “I show the kids my Outstanding Cougar award from fifth grade and they say, ‘You went to school here?’ and the kids see a connection.”
Ramos decided she wanted to be a teacher after becoming a paraprofessional.
“It was either nursing or teaching. I applied for an opening and became a para,” she said.
After getting her basics at Angelina College online and attending night classes, she finished her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies online at Stephen F. Austin State University.
After graduating in December 2021, she became a teacher because a position at Coston opened up when one of the teachers was going on maternity leave. Ramos was able to take advantage of the school district’s Grown Your Own program.
“I was unaware of it until my second or third semester and thought anything would help,” she said.
The program helps pay college tuition for paraprofessionals who qualify in an effort to develop quality teachers.
According to Ramos, teaching at Coston has its advantages.
“It’s the warm welcomes and the hugs,” she said. “‘You’re here!’ the kids say in the morning.
“One day I was out and a student met me on the sidewalk and said, ‘Don’t ever leave us again!’”
Thinking back on her experiences as an elementary student at Coston, Ramos liked the awards.
“I always loved the end of nine weeks conduct trips, or maybe it was for attendance — either Skate Ranch or bowling or something fun,” she said.
When she became a teacher, there were still teachers working at Coston that taught her. Becoming colleagues was a new experience for Ramos.
“At first it was not intimidating ” that isn’t the word — but I felt respectful,” she said.
One of her fifth-grade teachers, Ms. Smith is one she would go to if she had questions as a new teacher.
“She was more than willing to help me,” Ramos said. “She would say, ‘I’m so proud of you.’”
One of the challenges that Ramos faces as a new third grade teacher is state testing.
“Now that’s intimidating,” she said. “I want them to be successful and excel.”
And with the new digital STAAR test, it’s not just about math.
“It’s different. It’s not just multiply but drag and drop, use the menu, type in numbers or even a complete sentence,” Ramos said. “They have to practice computer skills. The kids will say, ‘I can help you.’
“It used to be learning to read. Now it’s reading to learn — multiplication, comprehension, stories where you pick out the adding. You need strong reading skills to do math.”
When not teaching, Ramos loves to spend time with her family and her dog Felix, a lab mix that is white and black and looks like Felix the cat. Ramos and her fiancé, Christian Lopez, met in art class their junior year at Lufkin High School.
“He went to Coston, too,” she said, “but we barely missed each other.”
Ramos’ mother, Olga, is known in the district for working at Student Nutrition Services but recently took a position working in the payroll department at Admin.
Ramos feels she’s where she is today because of a certain teacher.
“A teacher that inspired me in kindergarten was Bridget Grubb,” she said. “I wouldn’t talk to adults. I would only talk at home. She didn’t give up on me. She actually inspired me to be a teacher. She would always tell me how proud she was of me.
“I have students who say they want to be a teacher like me. I tell them, ‘You can do whatever you put your mind to!’”
Who knows? One day Ramos may be teaching side by side at Coston Elementary with one of her third-grade students in a place she loves so much and has always felt like home.
Student artwork and reasons why Ms. Ramos loves teaching third grade: