Holt special education teacher throws in the towel after 43 years

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Timeline of Ramona Berkey's career

Timeline of Ramona Berkey’s career

By Miranda Chavez
Holt Journal staff writer

At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, a list of retiring teachers was announced. One Ramona Berkey. Berkey has been teaching in Holt for 43 years. Holding numerous positions ranging from a resource teacher to a principal.

Headshot of teacher in classroom

Ramona Berkey sitting at her table in her classroom

Berkey said she began her career at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she studied special education. When nearing the time of her student teaching, Berkey had a strong desire to work in an inner city setting. She ended up being one of the first students from the college to student teach in the inner city of Pittsburgh. She later moved on to work for two years at PS180 in Harlem.

In 1971, she began working in one of the Educationally Mentally Impaired (EMI) classrooms at Holt Jr. High. This was the start of her long career with Holt Public Schools. Berkey said she moved to Michigan when her husband decided to do graduate research at Michigan State.

Between 1984 and 1995 Berkey was principal of Elliott Elementary. Berkey said as an educator she has a strong belief in continual education. Berkey was frustrated with colleagues who were content to know what they did, and not learn anything new. “I was constantly trying to be the educational leader in a building where half the people wanted to grow and half of them didn’t,” said Berkey.

Berkey said, “My favorite part of teaching is the kids! It’s always a gift. Every day is completely unpredictable … no two days are alike.” She said this is especially true with special education kids at a young age, which is where her career focus has been.

“I always go back to special ed,” said Berkey. She is currently the resource and interventions teacher at Horizon Elementary and has a case-load of special education kids. She has held this position at Elliott, Sycamore and Wilcox elementaries as well as the senior high.

Berkey is retiring to be spend more time with her grandkids who reside in Tacoma, Wash. Berkey said that she and her husband will be moving to Tacoma at the end of this school year.

Berkey said she plans to spend time reading and traveling with her husband. She said, “I’d like to join an autism association of families with children with autism as a resource or consultant in some way,” said Berkey.

Berkey said, “Don’t ever be satisfied that what you know is enough.” She encourages teachers to learn, to keep an open mind, and to be informed. “Always put the children first, you can’t go wrong if you keep the children in the center.”

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