Focus on Freshmen 2018 - Santa Barbara
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Mindy Bingham & Rudy Ramirez

Mindy Bingham

Innovative educational approaches have always been a mission for Mindy Bingham. As an adjunct college professor, seminar leader, author, publisher, and community activist, Mindy has dedicated herself to improving education. She has traveled around the country conducting workshops for administrators, teachers, and curriculum specialists.

As early as college, Mindy Bingham envisioned someday creating a curriculum that high schools could use to motivate young people to stay in school and prepare themselves for a career and a satisfying life. In 1990, when she finally had the financial reserves to capitalize her dream, she started Academic Innovations from her home office, fulfilling the initial stream of orders from her garage. Today, Academic Innovations works with hundreds of high schools across the country, helping them prepare students for a self-sufficient future.

Working with Dr. Rebecca Dedmond of the George Washington University in 2005, Mindy helped in the development of their Freshman Transition Initiative. In 2009, Mindy partnered with the leadership of the Santa Barbara City College Dual Enrollment department to help develop the curriculum strategies for a Dual Enrollment Freshman Transition course and, in 2012, the Get Focused...Stay Focused!® Initiative.

Today, over 70,000 students each year complete courses based on the books Mindy has authored or co-authored; to date, titles authored or co-authored by Mindy have sold over two million copies. The recipient of numerous national, regional, and local awards, in 2015, the United States Congress awarded her a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Innovative Approaches to Curricula.

Rudy Ramirez

Rudy RamirezIn 2016, Mr. Ramirez retired, completing 41 years in education, and 24 years as the principal of Indio High School. Mr. Ramirez is a graduate of UCLA. A former teacher, counselor, assistant principal, and principal, Mr. Ramirez is an advocate for students, parents, and the Indio community. Mr. Ramirez resides in Indio with his wife Elizabeth. Together they have five children. Four of his children graduated from Indio High School. Mr. Ramirez is a leader with a purpose and a passion for education. He is deeply connected to the Indio community and their families and is a true believer in academic success for all. Over the years, he has been recognized on numerous occasions for his dedication and the academic achievements of Indio High School. He has presented the Career Choices curriculum all over the country, and recently presented “Changing a Generation” to the Ohio Latino Education Summit.