After retiring from 30-plus years as a middle school teacher, Ernie Rambo continues working in education. She is the Program Coordinator for the Nevada National Board Professional Learning Institute. “Like many educators, my love of learning and interest in children made education the best choice for me,” she says. “My interest in adult learning developed over years of enduring professional learning experiences that didn’t meet my needs.” Now, Ernie creates a positive adult learning environment through her work at the Institute.
The Nevada National Board Professional Learning Institute supports teachers on multiple levels. It helps those working to become national board certified and engages teachers as researchers in education. “There is this huge disconnect between the wonderful research that is done at our universities and what the classroom actually looks like,” says Ernie. “Most teachers don’t read current research. That frustrates those who did all this research, but how do you connect them? We’d like to support teachers in engaging with classroom-based research.” Besides research, another area the Institute aids in is providing professional development on teacher leadership.
Leadership in the classroom is tricky to cultivate. While Ernie was teaching, one of the most challenging aspects was those who believed they knew how to teach because they were in school once. They often outweighed their limited student experience over Ernie’s years of teaching experience. “Because classroom teachers are told how to teach and what to teach, we have some who find ways to work around that. Who are still able to find ways to connect with their students and engage them in meaningful learning rather than just rote memorization,” says Ernie. “Our nonprofit supports educators in learning how to effectively advocate for their students and their profession.” With policies constantly redesigning a system from the 1800s, educators need to find support in their careers through nonprofits and dedicated people like Ernie.
Being an educator has rewarding moments outside of classroom restrictions. It is a beautiful and fulfilling moment when Ernie reconnects with past students and sees how their lives altered because of their learning experiences. Some of her past students have gone on to become published writers and doctors and several became teachers. “Seeing them lead in the community is the most rewarding as a teacher,” says Ernie. “While education is considered a ‘traditional’ profession for women, strong women who lead from the classroom can instigate systemic changes to improve education.”
The future for Ernie is to publish her first book as a co-author with a colleague. Plus, Ernie aspires to continue producing her husband’s music and help him publish all 8 of his albums.
After her retirement, Ernie joined IAW as a way to connect with women outside of education and continued to pursue her career goals. It wasn’t long before her work as a new member coordinator for the Las Vegas Local Chapter became noticed by the leadership team. The position of Vice President opened up, and she was recommended by the President, Katie, to fulfill it. At first, Ernie never considered leading outside of education, but “it kindled a desire through me to give back to IAW through leadership,” she says. “Katie asked me first to serve on the board, and then after two years, perhaps I saw talents and skills in myself that I hadn’t seen before. Enough that I was bold enough to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to be considered for that position.’ I was surprised that I had the boldness to suggest myself,” Ernie explained. She has been serving as the VP of the Las Vegas chapter ever since.
“Serving as a board member motivates me to reach outside of my comfort zone and achieve more with my professional goals,” says Ernie. “The community found among the women who I’ve met attending IAW’s events has also supported me to move forward rather than step away from my profession.” Part of her motivation for her career development also comes from the Influencer membership that allows her to achieve more.
Influencer membership tailors IAW resources to support women to achieve all they desire as industry leaders. Influencers receive a roadmap to achieve their goals. “When the roadmap came back I was surprised that I do have goals and how wonderful it is to stay active and stay supported as I continue to grow which is outside of what I was familiar with in education,” said Ernie. “Just when I think that I’ve reached as far as I need to in building my career, IAW is behind me, pushing me to the next level!”
Interested in becoming a member of IAW? Ernie has this piece of advice for you: “Get on the website, introduce yourself, be ready to learn at every event, start connecting with other members, and utilize the professional learning opportunities that membership includes.”
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