Mr. Rameau’s Haitian Background Shapes His Teaching Style

By Christelle Glaudin ’19

Many of you know Mr. Edy Rameau as the dean who tirelessly encourages us to get to class or the math teacher who offers life lessons and laughter as he helps us navigate through equations and formulas. But before embarking on his journey at Midwood, Mr. Rameau had a very different life.

Mr. Rameau grew up in Haiti, where he describes his life as pretty decent. He came from a small town and was raised by his grandmother since his parents were living in the United States. When he was a teenager he engaged in extracurricular activities like playing soccer and focused heavily on his education.

In 1984, Mr. Rameau moved to the United States at the age of 19, after finishing high school.

Mr. Rameau said, “What pushed me here besides the lack of opportunities that we had back home is that many of my friends came to America before me. They would often call and say, ‘You gotta come! You gotta come!’ Also, back in the 80’s, I started watching American videos and I fell in love with the music, culture, and money.”

As he embraced his new life in the states, he began his academic journey about five years later at York College. He went to school part time and worked to pay for his education.

“I wanted to be a journalist, and I took a lot of foreign languages classes,” said Mr. Rameau. “I basically wanted to become a writer, but it took me a long time to go back to school. My first love was always literature.”

Mr. Rameau then continued his academic career at Brooklyn College, where he earned a master’s degree in French literature and psychology in 1994. However, getting a job proved to be difficult.

“I couldn’t find a job as a French teacher,” he said. “There were absolutely no opportunities for French teachers.”

Even with these difficulties, Mr. Rameau’s thirst for success propelled him to pursue a career in mathematics. He went to Kingsborough Community College, where he got his associate’s degree in mathematics. Afterwards, he transferred to Brooklyn College to complete his master’s and began to work as a math teacher.

Mr. Rameau said, “My very first teaching job was at Kingsborough. I had that job before starting at Midwood. I was teaching the math and science part of the GED program.

It was a fascinating job. I had such a nice experience that a year later, I started teaching full time.” Mr. Rameau explained that there were various rewarding aspects to his job.

He said, “You get to see the students ten years later, and they tell you that they are doctors, police officers, engineers. They tell you how much they remember the stories you told them when they were in school. Some of my former students, became teachers themselves. They also recognize you everywhere you go. I’ve had students stop me on the street and say, ‘I was in your algebra class.’ ‘I was in your pre-calculus class.’ ‘I was in your geometry class.’ Another aspect is sometimes they need someone to talk to so they know that what they aspire to is not impossible. Some students would say, ‘There’s no way I can go to Columbia or NYU,’ and I would tell them it’s all about your effort and determination.”

Mr. Rameau currently supports two students at his old school in Haiti by paying their full tuition. He would consider going back to visit but not to stay since he has family here. In the near future he’s considering pursuing a PhD in French literature.

Mr. Rameau said, “The biggest lesson that I’ve learned on this journey is that there is a big difference between poverty in terms of economics and being in cultural poverty. So many people confuse the two, but these are two different notions. You see, you can have a lot of money and be culturally poor. You can have all the money and never open up a book, so you’re not aware of certain things. So, when it comes to money, you are filthy rich, but when it comes to culture, you are extremely poor. I realized that when I came here. I was economically poor, but culturally, I felt like a millionaire. I walked around with swag, just like everyone else. I did not let anything define me. I know who I am.”

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