Ruby Martin: A lesson on education

Stewartstown native Ruby Martin discovered an Italian educational philosophy almost 20 years ago that changed her life as an educator.

Presented by: Our York Media
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Ruby Martin (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

During a graduate trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy, while pursuing a master’s in education, Ruby Martin walked into an Italian classroom thinking she already knew everything about preschool education.

She left speechless and humbled.

The instructors there practiced Reggio Approach, an educational philosophy that allows students to explore and discover their environments through limited teacher intrusion. It changed her entire approach to working with children.

“I came back to the United States and cried,” Ruby says. “It made me realize how much more I have to learn.”

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Ruby grew up in Stewartstown and now lives in the city. Since the trip, she has made it her passion to instill those educational philosophies in her own backyard, starting in a program in Shrewsbury before taking a job as the Chief Child and Youth Program Officer with YWCA York 13 years ago.

“York is a little city with big-city problems,” Ruby says. “York has awesome kids with a lot of intelligence. They need a place where they can come in and feel arms coming around them as soon as they walk in the door.”

There’s just so much good work going on here and so much more to do.

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Ruby Martin

Ruby hears of places in other cities charging thousands of dollars for this type of early childhood education. That’s not the case here, and she’s OK with that.

“It’s about being accessible so that you are there for the kids who need you most,” Ruby says. “There’s no better place for me to be than York County.”

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There’s something else that keeps Ruby focused on York – the heart of the city.

She moved downtown because Ruby sees the potential York has.

“I want to stay here, inspire and change York,” Ruby says. “There’s just so much good work going on here and so much more to do.”

To reach its potential, Ruby believes the city needs to keep its talent local.

“We don’t want them to go, leave and build something great somewhere else,” Ruby says. “We want to make sure they stay in York and create a better society. Why can’t it be here?”

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