LIVINGSTON, NJ — Meet Livingston Board of Education candidate Mike Ramer.
Mike Ramer, an 11-year Livingston resident, is the principal of his own executive search firm, Ramer Search Consultants, and is also an employability expert witness for legal cases as well as a trainer in the staffing and recruiting industry. He was born and raised in northern New Jersey and has a bachelor’s degree in economics as well as a master’s degree in international economics and finance from Brandeis University. Ramer shares two children, Max and Ethan, with his wife, Amy. Max is a junior at Livingston High School and Ethan is in his first year at the University of Michigan.
Q: Why are you running for the board of education?
A: This is the question I am asked most often.
- My short answer: I am passionate about education. My personal and professional life has revolved around education. And, I want to give back to our community and share what I have learned in my career and professional training.
- My longer answer (in addition to above): In my preteen years, my dad was a major and my mom was on a board of education. So, public service is in my blood. I believe that the way our children are educated must adapt to the demands of the 21st century. And, I have new ideas to make our excellent schools even better. For example, there should be more emphasis on teaching soft skills – communication, presentation, problem-solving and teamwork – for our children to succeed beyond high school – in college, to obtain employment, and in their chosen careers.
Q: What do you believe is the most important issue in this local election? How would you change it?
A: There are two important issues to me:
- Short-term, our children’s safety and security must be our top priority. Students should be safe and feel safe. If they do not feel safe, academic performance and development could be affected. In the post 9/11 world, we must be vigilant in securing our schools, perhaps with part-time officers and closed circuit cameras as needed. We must educate our children, starting early in our elementary schools, about potential harmful acts like cyber-bulling and bad online behavior. I believe topics on emotional well-being should be integrated into students’ health classes.
- Long-term, I would like to see our Board of Education compose a “Vision Action Plan.” You may have heard the phrase, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to get there.” Our school board should compos 10, 15, even 25-year plans and answer the following: How will today’s kindergartens learn in high school? What will the classroom of the future look like? What should we be doing now to prepare for students’ learning 25 years from now? I would like to see a community-wide survey that addresses what the BOE should be focusing on for future planning.
Q: Apart from running for the school board, what other ways are you involved in the town?
A: I have been appointed the Education Sub-Committee chair for the Livingston Vision 20/20 committee. I am leading our group to form a Continuing Education program. Through a community-wide survey, we learned there is significant interest to create a Livingston Adult School. Courses will be offered in three areas: culture, business and technology. Stay tuned for exciting developments!
Throughout my children’s schooling, I have been very involved in my kids’ education: from attending back-to-school nights, to meetings with teachers and administrators, to discussing school issues with friends and other parents in town. Many discussions now are focused on college—getting in and paying for it -- which I am happy to discuss and share my experiences with anyone interested!
In town, I have coached youth sports teams for many years: baseball, soccer and basketball. I thoroughly enjoy coaching and watching the children grow, increase their skills and confidence, and play together as a team. As a member on the Livingston BOE, I will be an advocate for sports and extracurricular activities for their development of life skills.
Another way I am involved in our community is through my career in the world of employment. Here in town, I have given workshops about job search best practices and have worked with many in Livingston one-on-one in offering career advice.
If elected to the BOE, an area of focus for me will be to increase our students’ awareness of career options. I would like to see programs where professionals come into classrooms to talk with students about what they do and skills needed in their jobs. I would also like to see “Career Day” programs at all school levels.
Q: Tell us about your other career.
A: Early in my career, I was management-trained at Chase Manhattan Bank and the advertising firm, Ogilvy & Mather, in New York. I left the corporate world in my late 20s and started an entrepreneurial venture. When it didn’t work out, I learned things about myself and about the world that are not taught in school: grit, perseverance, resilience. Afterwards, my mom asked me to join her staffing firm in northern New Jersey, and we built the company to 20+ staff. Years later, we sold the company, and I started my own consulting firm.
For the past 25 years, I have worked in the world of employment. I do three things now: I am principal of my executive search firm, an employability expert witness for legal cases, and a trainer in the staffing and recruiting industry. Some have called me a “Human Capital Management Consultant.”
In my career, I get great enjoyment from training and consulting. I have taken “train-the-trainer” courses and have spoken at 50+ state and national conferences. My next speaking engagement is for the Management Consultants Institute in Philadelphia the week after the November election.
From my work, I am keenly aware of the skills our children need beyond high school. As a member of the Livingston BOE, I look forward to initiating programs for all students—elementary school through high school—to ensure our children are prepared for college, to obtain employment, and to succeed in their chosen careers.
Q: What should people know about you that they might not know already?
A: My mom was a teacher. My sister and sister-in-law are teachers. My cousins are teachers. Through my conversations with them and teachers in-town, I have learned about their joys and achievements, their challenges and their needs. I truly appreciate their efforts and passion for sharing their knowledge with our children.
If elected to the Livingston BOE, I will be an advocate for teachers. Any additional funds in our district budget, over and above operating costs, I would like to see invested in our teachers, whether for compensation, professional development or their classrooms. Our teachers are the heart of what make Livingston schools excellent, and we must continue to take care of them as best as we possibly can.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Livingston teachers. My family’s experience with my children’s teachers has been outstanding--from elementary school to Livingston High School. Our teachers play a critical role in shaping our kids’ minds. Through their enthusiasm, teachers ignite in our children curiosity and passion to learn, which influences their life pursuits and career interests. On behalf of my family and our Livingston community, thank you to all teachers for all you do!