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(April 29, 2019, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) celebrates 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson and AACTE member institutions Virginia State University and Virginia Commonwealth University, which helped prepare him for his distinguished career path. Robinson is a 19-year teaching veteran who received the national honor last week from the Council of Chief State School Officers.
“Rodney Robinson exemplifies what it means to be a 21st century educator. He focuses each and every lesson on the principals of culturally relevant teaching and social-emotional learning,” said Brandon Frost, AACTE Assistant Director, Programs and Professional Learning, who served on the National Selection Committee. “More importantly, Rodney exemplifies the work we do at AACTE by bridging research to practice as he regularly contributes to the literature and dissemination of best teaching practices to his fellow educators.”
Robinson teaches social studies at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Justice Center, where he creates a positive school culture by empowering his students. He uses the whole child approach to education to help the students who are most vulnerable. His classroom is a collaborative partnership between himself and his students and is anchored in him providing a civic centered education that promotes social-emotional growth. He uses the knowledge he has gained from his students to develop alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.
Robinson has committed himself to getting to know his students and talking about the issues in their communities—oftentimes the violence that has killed or injured family and friends—in the classroom. “If you don’t address it, it’s going to be a cloud that hangs over the class and kids aren’t going to be able to focus,” he said in a recent interview. “You have to show them that you care about what’s going on and then you’ll be able to get them to learn.”
Robinson earned a bachelor of arts in history from Virginia State University and a master’s in educational administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Mr. Robinson is very worthy of this honor and is a great role model for the teaching profession. He is the epitome of what a culturally-responsive practitioner should be and has an inspiring personal story of transformation, which is why his students love him so much,” said Willis Walter, dean of the College of Education at Virginia State University. “Having recently received state approval, we will soon launch our undergraduate teacher education program and Rodney is a perfect example of the stellar educators we want all of our students to become. We will always cherish him as our Trojan.”
“Rodney Robinson embodies what we want and need to see in all of our teachers,” said Andrew Daire, dean of the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. “He brings a passion for all students, particularly those at-promise for success and pours the time, attention, skills and expectations they need to be successful. We are very proud of him and look forward to his message and character being felt nationwide.”
Robinson has been published three times by Yale University and has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in and out of the classroom, most notably the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. He is a member of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s Education Compact Team, which includes politicians, educators, business leaders, and community leaders, and is working with city leaders and local colleges to recruit underrepresented male teachers into the field of education. He has also worked with Pulitzer Prize winning author James Foreman on developing curriculum units on race, class, and punishment as a part of the Yale Teacher’s Institute.
As the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Robinson will spend a year traveling nationally and internationally to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. He plans to focus his year-long advocacy efforts on creating an equitable education for all students, and improving the teacher pipeline by recruiting more men of color into the field of education.
“AACTE congratulates Rodney Robinson and the other exemplary state teachers of the year, whose notable contributions to the teaching profession serves as model examples,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “We also celebrate AACTE’s member institutions that prepared these educators for their lifelong commitment to making a difference in the lives of their students.”
AACTE is honored to be a member of the National Selection Committee, which includes representatives from 16 renowned education organizations that collectively represent more than seven million educators, parents, and students. The committee selects four finalists from the state winners, conducts personal interviews with the finalists, and names the National Teacher of the Year.
AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The 800 member institutions include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at www.aacte.org.