Jerome Ramsey - Class of 2000
Varsity Basketball Coach, Physical Education Teacher, East Burke High School

“East Burke is home. It’s a part of me, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” With these words, Jerome Ramsey expresses both his loyalty to his alma mater and his calling to teach and coach young people. He is presently in his ninth year as varsity basketball coach and physical education teacher, and as such he is in a position to motivate and guide. He not only takes the job seriously but also finds great enjoyment in the role. “Interacting on a daily basis with students at such a key time in their lives brings me great satisfaction. These young people are at the point when they are deciding who they want to become as people. Building positive relationships and serving as a good example are important to me.

“Playing sports has always been a big part of my life, and that little orange bouncy ball has always been with me. The idea of teaching at the college level wasn’t appealing to me, and since my high school teachers and coaches had played such an important part in my life, teaching high school seemed to be the best way to pass on the lessons I had learned from them as well as stay involved in sports.”

Jerome earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mars Hill College and taught math at East Burke before changing to physical education in order to take on the varsity coaching job. “I had only two math teachers at East Burke, Lucille Bond and Ramona Barus. These ladies were very different in personality and in teaching styles, but they were both very effective and were great motivators and inspirations to me. Interestingly enough, I only had two math teachers at Mars Hill as well. Dr. Gordon Roberts and Dr. Don Russell could not have been more different as people and as teachers, but I will never forget them and learned so much from each of them.”

There were other East Burke teachers who stood out as well. “Jim Hipps was a great chemistry teacher. Robert McAdams was such an inspiration. I don’t know of anyone who knew Dr. Mac who wasn’t motivated by him. The students went into all kinds of different fields, but we were all encouraged by what we learned from him. My senior English teacher, Anne Stephens, also made an impression. I vividly remember being in class with Mrs. Stephens during third period and then going directly to Mrs. Bond’s math class during fourth. It was such a contrast, but I think it helped me learn to adjust quickly to different situations.”

Naturally, coaches have played a major role in Jerome’s life. “Rob Bliss, who was my coach during my senior year, made a real impression on me, and I am grateful that I also was able to be his colleague and coach along side him for a while. Coach Jim Argent was also a great encouragement. He really pushed me to do better and to work toward my goals. Of course, my dad coached me in every way every day of my life, but I also need to mention T.M. Rembert, who was a longtime family friend and my first summer and recreational league basketball coach. He inspired me at a young age and gave me the confidence I needed to continue to work harder and set more goals.

“I worked as assistant coach when I taught math, but when the varsity coaching job opened up, I needed to become certified and join the physical education department. I remember the July day when I was out fishing with my dad and got the call from athletic director Jim Childers telling me that the position was available. It was a big change but has been a worthwhile one.”

Extracurricular activities such as team sports are valuable experiences for young people. “Choosing, committing, cooperating, having a common goal, and doing one’s part for the good of the team are all important life lessons.” Jobs undertaken during younger years can also have a lasting impact. “When I was in school, I worked for a while in the Town of Valdese public works department. Steve Morrow was a great boss. We arrived early in the morning and worked long hours weed eating and doing other projects. It was good training for life and reinforced a good work ethic.

“For a while, I considered entering the ministry, and I have enjoyed serving as the youth pastor at my church for several years. But I have also come to realize that coaching is my ministry. Working every day with these young people is a true calling, and my goal is to do better every day. East Burke really is home, and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Published December 2021

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