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Pioneering education official remembered for putting Oklahoma on top in early childhood education

Ramona Paul, 76, of Edmond, died Sunday night after suffering a stroke while vacationing in Idaho. Paul served as assistant state superintendent for 20 years and is credited for making Oklahoma's early childhood development effort the premier program in the nation.
BY HANNAH COVINGTON Published: July 1, 2013

— Ramona Paul, a longtime state education official best known for her work in developing the state's early childhood program, died Sunday night. She was 76.

Paul suffered a stroke in Idaho while visiting her brother and died in a hospital in Idaho Falls.

She played a key role in making Oklahoma's early childhood education program the best in the nation, based on the number of children served and the quality of its programs, former state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said.

“Early childhood was her major passion,” Garrett said. “We worked together with the Legislature to accomplish something that no other state even knew about at the time.”

Drawing from her experience as an educator, Paul developed the state's prekindergarten curriculum in the early 1980s.

She served as assistant state schools superintendent from 1991 until her retirement in 2011.

Garrett said Paul loved being in the classroom, interacting with teachers and students.

“I tell people that I spent 13 years living with 6-year-olds as a first-grade teacher, and she spent 30 years working in early childhood, which takes a type of person who can share the kids' creativity and sense of wonderment,” Garrett said.

Paul's passion for early childhood education spanned a lifetime.

Paul grew up in a household dedicated to child development research. Her parents both worked at Oklahoma State University. Her mother, Girdie Ware, was a teacher and researcher in the university's child development department.

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