School: New London Academy
Years as an Educator: 28
Currently Teaches: 5th Grade
* Bedford County Teacher of the Year (2004)
* Concord College, Bachelor of Science
* University of Virginia, Master of Arts in Education-Curriculum and Instruction
Why did you become a teacher?
As long as I can remember, I have always valued education. Through life experience, I came to recognize that regardless of a person's background, the opportunity to learn can be a game changer. I therefore chose to become an educator. This career would allow me to the give the gift of learning and impart knowledge, allowing my students to grow to their fullest potential.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
There are many rewards in the teaching field. However, for me, the most rewarding is the interactions I have with my students. Within my classroom, we build a community filled with learning, laughing and sharing. Our lessons extend beyond the curriculum. When my students exit the classroom, I feel confident they are better equipped for life's challenges.
What are your biggest challenges?
In the high stakes world of testing, my biggest challenge is creating a meaningful and engaging curriculum. Today's educational environment is highly focused on student assessment. I want my students to recognize that learning is much more than testing. Therefore, I strive to create lessons that are student-centric with choice and meaning.
Looking back at your career, what would you say is your greatest personal accomplishment?
As I look back on my career, I feel my greatest accomplishment is the opportunity I have been given to mentor young educators. It is an honor to be able to work with the next generation of teachers and share my experiences. I am hopeful to provide continued leadership to my peers.
Describe a favorite memory with your students.
One of my favorite memories is receiving a call from a high school teacher telling me about a letter a former student of mine had written.
The letter explained how the student's perspective towards acceptance and respect of others was forever changed after her fifth grade year. I felt proud that beyond the academics, she had learned a lesson of love and compassion.
If you could pass along one thing to others about the education field, what would it be?
To look past the demands of the profession and recognize the purpose of your work. Some days, you will be frustrated and overwhelmed. When that happens, look toward your students: within them lies hope and the motivation to continue. Simply, they are worthy of your best.
From Her Nomination:
"[Mrs. Rodriguez] creates a safe and caring learning environment for all her students each day... She takes time to listen to my son...really listen to him. She engages all her students in learning. She is a difference maker."
-Michelle Fluker, parent