No one gives more to James Monroe High School

No one gives more to James Monroe High School


August 17, 2015

When I read today’s Guest Essay, On the path to learning, by Principal Vicky Ramos and Expanded Learning Coordinator Mary Munoz at James Monroe High School, I immediately thought of Dilia Olmeda, Monroe’s Project Administrator.

If you have spent anytime at all at Monroe, you know Dilia. Project Administrator hardly begins to describe her work. Of inexhaustible energy, Dilia will be found greeting visitors, meeting with parents often early in the morning or after school, translating for students, staff and faculty, informally counseling and mentoring, fixing computer glitches, writing her newsletter, setting up display cases — often with her ubiquitous camera as she visually chronicles the life of the school.

I met Dilia when preparing my first ever post for the “Make City Schools Better” blog.  One Parent Resource Center at a time at Monroe Immediately enthusiastic about the project, Dilia had her camera out in a flash. As we talked, I learned about her passion for the students of Monroe and a shared interest in writing. Dilia is the Editor of Monroe Memos.

In our next project on the Monroe video club, Dilia quickly introduced me to the club faculty supervisor, Liza Steffen, and arranged an interview with Principal Armando Ramirez — at the interview with camera in hand, of course. Never miss a photo op! When the Club won big at the Diggies, no one was more thrilled than Dilia. In its first appearance, Monroe video club wins big at Digital Media Festival, “The Digies.”

Next, we wanted to publicize Monroe’s literacy partnership with SUNY Geneseo. Dilia again set up an interview, this time with Principal Brenda Pacheco-Rivera. (Nice pic Dilia took, too.) The partnership is prominently addressed in the Guest Essay. Monroe forging ambitious literacy partnership with SUNY Geneseo

After that, during Stand Against Racism week, Dilia promptly had me in touch with AmeriCorps member Beth Russell and Assistant Principal Tom Pappas.  As I recall, Dilia got on Beth’s case a bit to send the post to the YMCA community and beyond. Beth did. It is hard to say no to Dilia.   Celebrating diversity at James Monroe High School

Then, Dilia was instrumental (pardon the pun) in one of our favorite collaborations. A while before, Dilia had shown me the historical display she had created on Urban Steel. Hence, we were both excited when  Vernon Henry came to Monroe, having a delightful and informative afternoon photographing, drumming and tuning. Instruments tuned up by their creator, Urban Steel is set to sway Rochester. Next stop, Antigua?

Next was my most popular post ever. Football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus Dilia was there scanning and cropping the pictures from the old year book. She made sure Coach Jason Mohammad was ready for his photo op, calling him several times of her school radio (not that Jason needs much encouagement when it comes to football).

Lastly was what I consider one of my important posts. Monroe’s Latin American Lit course breaks new ground  Alexci Reyes is busy guy, but Dilia leaned in a little, inspiring him to complete his narrative contribution. Photos attributed to Dilia, as ever. Alexci’s work–which seems to have gone overlooked–is exactly the kind of initiative that can make James Monroe High School thrive.

I realize I owe Dilia a post for Monroe Memos as I have been remiss for some time. Hope this one counts!

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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