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Rangel gets nod as Ripon High vice principal

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Rangel gets nod as Ripon High vice principal

Ripon High special education teacher, coach Keith Rangel has been named as vice principal of the 900-student school.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED July 27, 2011 12:49 a.m.

RIPON — Ripon High School special education supervisor Keith Rangel has been named permanently to the post of vice principal of his alma mater.

Rangel took on the position in the interim when Amy Carter-Baker was temporarily reassigned as principal of Ripona Elementary School in January. She was replacing Warren Council who had taken a medical leave for most of the second semester.

Rangel’s appointment by the school board two weeks ago came on the heels of Baker being named principal of Colony Oak Elementary School on Murphy Road in rural Ripon.

After serving five to six months in the position, Rangel said the first duties of a vice principal is to ensure the safety of all of a school’s students creating the best learning environment possible.

A native of San Jose, he moved to Ripon when he was only four years old with siblings Kirk and Brooke.  He then attended Ripon Elementary School when Leo Zuber was principal, later attending Ripon High School, he said.

Today he supports a basic philosophy in education. 

“My philosophy right now is that failure is not an option.  With that approach, I believe your success rate will increase.  One of the most important things for me is to prepare Ripon High students for adulthood with the life skills needed to be successful. Sometimes that is missed with everyone getting focused on the core subjects, math, science and English,” he said.

Rangel said it is most important for graduating students to be able to fill out a job application, apply for credit and to balance a checking account. 

During the summer months in Ripon and in Manteca, a high school student need not be bored thinking there is little to do, he agreed.  They all have the opportunity to shadow professionals in the community for a day in a profession that they are focusing on for their life’s work. 

“There are so many more opportunities that you have in a smaller community compared to someplace larger where you couldn’t do so many things.  For a student who wants to get into farming – what better place?” he asked.

Rangel mentioned that both the police and fire departments in Ripon have junior academies with students able to learn the day-to-day demands through shadowing and ride- alongs.  Aside from those areas, students can go out as individuals and spend time with anyone from an attorney to a veterinarian and even a cosmetologist or a photographer.

The new vice principal said it’s all about the “passion” of seeking more knowledge about a career.  “Be the best you can be,” he said whether it is a vice principal or a bus driver.

“Attitude is contagious.  We come in here and we’re excited about school.  We’re excited about Ripon High and show a love for Ripon High – that trickles down to the teachers and gets the teachers excited too,” Rangel said.  “Students are excited, parents are excited,” adding that he feels very blessed to have been chosen for his new leadership role.

“What I’ve learned is that the students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” he said.  “I have a passion working with teenagers, with what I learned from my father about character, commitment and discipline.”

His dad was a very hard worker, he added, putting everyone else first, working three jobs to support his family.  Even though his jobs took most of his time, he never missed one of Rangel’s wrestling matches or football games, he said.

Having served as a wrestling and football coach, Rangel said those same values are taught to students at Ripon High, especially through the football program.

He and his wife Jessie live in Ripon with their three children excited about having another child on the way.   Jessie has her degree in education and is now attending Stanislaus State to obtain her teaching credential.

Their children include eight-year-old Abigail, Riley Rae, 7 both attending Ripon Elementary School, and toddler Cael, 2.  Rangel said the best place in the valley for bringing up a  family is the community of Ripon.

The new vice principal first went to Modesto Junior College and worked at Gold’s Gym when it first went 24-hours, working nights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.  From MJC he went on to the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he played football for two years.  At a part-time job in a restaurant there, he said he learned the skills of being a waiter while working also as a student coach in college.

In 2001 Rangel returned to Ripon and was an assistant track coach at Ripon High.  He graduated from college with a physical education major and a PE credential, he said, doing his student teaching at Ripon High. He also filled in teaching physical education at area elementary schools including Colony Oak when that school was on the traditional year-round program.

He had also been asked early on to serve as the district’s truancy supervisor and truancy officer in the 2002 year.   “That was a fun job,” he chuckled.  From there he was offered a full-time position to teach Special Education.  Rangel went back to school to get his Special Education credential and his master’s degree at Chapman University.

He has been teaching Special Education for the past eight years when the vice principal position opened up.   Coaching track for four years, football for seven years and wrestling for three years filled out that eight-year tenure at Ripon High.   He finished his work toward his administrative credential a year ago, he added. 

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