Richmond teacher Rodney Robinson named National Teacher of the Year

Posted at 8:42 AM, Apr 24, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Schools teacher Rodney Robinson has been named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made live on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday morning. Robinson, who teaches history at Virgie Binford Education Center inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, beat out three other finalists to win the prestigious honor.

Robinson teaches some of the "most vulnerable kids in society" at Virgie Binford.

"They have succumbed to the pressure of urban living and made mistakes that they are paying for, but they still persevere and strive for success. They are my inspiration, and I will fight to my last heartbeat for them," Robinson said while he accepted the state-wide award last year.

“Kids deserve a second chance and I’m here to give them that chance that they deserve,” Robinson said Wednesday.

Robinson says all students deserve a great education, but not every kid is on the same level. So as a teacher, his goal is to make sure every student gets what they need to achieve at a high level.

The Richmond schools teacher said he considered himself a facilitator to direct his student towards learning.

He thanked those students and dedicated the honor to them.

“It’s just recognition of my students. My students are so amazing. Their story doesn’t get told,” said Robinson.

“It’s a great opportunity to tell my students that sometimes a temporary setback could be what you need in order to succeed in life.”

Robinson has credited his parents with putting him on the path to success, particularly his mom.

“She always taught us that every child deserves the proper amount of love to get where he or she needs," Robinson said Wednesday. "That was my first lesson in equity. So, I try to treat my students with whatever they need to be successful. Some need more, some need less, but I’m going to be there to give you what you need.”

Robinson said he became a teacher to honor his mother, who struggled to receive an education after being denied an education as growing up due to segregation in rural Virginia.

"They told me education was a gateway to new opportunities in life," he added.

It is a lesson he teaches his incarcerated students, both inside the classroom and through motivational messages he uses to decorate the hallways.

“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,” according to his profile. “Robinson uses the knowledge he has gained from his students to develop alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

Robinson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia State University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University, is a 19-year veteran of Richmond Public Schools. He previously taught at Armstrong High, Wythe High, and Brown Middle School.

"Words cannot express how proud we are of Mr. Robinson and how thrilled we are to have him represent Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and the entire United States teaching profession," a Richmond Public Schools spokesperson said. "Rodney teaches and leads with love – love for his students and their families, love for his colleagues, and love for his community. He sees the hope, promise, and potential in every single one of the young people he teaches and gives his entire self to them, in and out of the classroom. He represents everything we stand for: boundless love for our students, a fierce commitment to equity, and an unyielding pursuit of

The National Teacher of the Year Program dates to 1952 and is considered the oldest and most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching.



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