National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson Continues Virginia State University’s Tradition of Lifting Up the Next Generation

National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson Continues Virginia State University’s Tradition of Lifting Up the Next Generation

Rodney Robinson’s journey to becoming the 2019 National Teacher of the Year was like a road littered with obstacles. One of the major challenges was needing to work a full-time job while earning his undergraduate degree at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va. While carrying a full academic load at the HBCU, Robinson held down jobs, including a stint at Kings Dominion amusement park.

 

It was a challenge made easier by classmates and professors who knew the future top educator needed to work, Robinson said. Professors allowed him some wiggle room for assignment due dates and made sure Robinson had everything he needed if he couldn’t make it to class. A few of his professors would even buy merchandise they needed at Circuit City so that he could earn the commission.

 

“It was that community, that family environment at Virginia State,” he pointed to as part of the reason for his success, adding that the university’s tradition of giving the next generation a hand up was also key.

 

Robinson graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in history and built an impressive teaching career that spans 19 years—earning the National Teacher of the Year honor in April. During his nearly two decades of teaching, Robinson has been paying it forward by applying VSU’s tradition of relationship building between teacher and students into his classrooms.

 

In 2015, Robinson began teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center, a juvenile detention facility in Richmond, Va. He has been on a mission to help turn around the lives of his students while developing alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

 

In 2015, Robinson began teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center, a juvenile detention facility in Richmond, Va. He has been on a mission to help turn around the lives of his students while developing alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

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