IDEA Edinburg College Prep Principal Ramiro Gomez Jr. was only in 2nd grade when he realized that one day, he would become a school administrator. He can still picture his then principal, José Borrego, wearing his blue suit and tie with black shiny shoes, patrolling the hallways.
“I wanted to be like him,” said Gomez, who grew up in Monte Alto and now runs a campus with 703 students. “At the time I didn’t know what he did, but I knew I wanted to be like him.”
Gomez has worked with IDEA for nine years. He credits teachers and staff on his campus for all the well-deserved accolades. In 2019, IDEA College Preparatory Edinburg received an A-rating as a campus, scoring a 95 out of 100 in student achievement, a 93 out of 100 in school progress, and an 85 out of 100 in closing achievement gaps.
But it was his parents — his first maestros, teachers — who instilled ideals that he would later realize align with IDEA Public Schools’ core values.
“‘You are young men and you have both of us here, so you really have no excuses,’” Gomez recalled his father telling his children. “So, I grew up with these core values — no excuses and do whatever it takes.”
His father, also named Ramiro, worked as a farmworker and later at a frozen vegetable factory, where he climbed his way up from sweeping the warehouse’s floors to ultimately becoming a supervisor. His mother, Elida, worked at the same packing plant for some time before dedicating herself to running their home. The couple dutifully checked their children’s report cards and pushed them to take advantage of their educational opportunities and to reach higher than what had been possible to them. His father has an 8th-grade education. His mother 3rd.
“Both of my parents are the hardest working, most intelligent people I know,” Gomez said. “They didn’t have much, but what they did have was family and this push for education. It was always about education.”
The youngest of four boys, Gomez said his brothers also fostered some healthy competition – whether at school or in sports or at home – that helped push him.
“The competition was there, even for the last tortilla,” Gomez joked.
Ramiro Sr. said he remembers watching his namesake up late at night studying and up early in the morning as he’d head to school. When Ramiro Jr. wanted to get a job while attending college his father insisted, “No, señor, you are not going to work,” he told his son. “We will help you however we can.”
To this day, Principal Gomez gets emotional when he thinks about his college graduation.
“I had never ever seen my father cry until that day,” said Gomez who was the first person in his family to graduate from college.
His father still remembers the day his son walked across that stage.
“I’m still crying,” the elder Gomez said. “These are tears of joy.”
Gomez’s first few years as an educator were a challenge. As a teacher, he watched how the educational system treated students like they were only discipline problems. Gomez soon realized that if he wanted to make a difference, he would have to become a principal.
He was guided by a simple philosophy: “every single student could learn given the right tools.”
“These are entire families that we are changing. These are lives we are changing,” Gomez remembers thinking. “These are people who can eventually do good in the community if we just do it right.”
Gomez said that witnessing how education can transform a student’s life is what motivates him along with his four children – 3 sons and one daughter. Their portraits hang on the wall facing his desk. A constant reminder of why he became an educator.
“Every kid deserves someone to believe in them, to cheer them on,” Gomez said. “I was put in this position for a reason. I’m blessed.”