Rodney Robinson, who teaches social studies and history, has been named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.
“CBS This Morning” revealed Wednesday that Robinson was bestowed with the honor.
Rodney Robinson, 2019 National Teacher of the Year, on creating "equitable culture" in classrooms
Meet the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson! https://cbsn.ws/2PrKRXG
Posted by CBS This Morning on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Robinson is an educator at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. His main focus was helping students to students become socially conscious citizens who make the most out of their second chance. Some of his students have been accused of skipping school to murder.
He insisted there was no difference in the teenagers he taught from their peers.
“They like cheesy, teenage stuff like ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Hanna,’ their favorite shows. But they just made mistakes and they’re paying for mistakes,” Robinson said.
“But America is a country of second chances and in order for them to achieve and get that second chance, they deserve a quality education like everybody else.”
Robinson taught him the valuable lesson of paying it forward. He relayed how she struggled to receive an education after being denied growing up during segregation in rural Virginia. In her later years, she had five children and ran an in-home daycare. His upbringing made him want to create a classroom that was equitable.
“She always taught us that every child deserves the proper amount of love to get where he or she needs, and that was my first lesson in equity,” he said. “And 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.”
Ta’Neshia Ford, Virgie Binford Education Center principal, commended Robinson for the impact he has made on the lives of his students.
“He is so much more than just a teacher. He is a pillar of our community,” Ford said. “He is the father … the big brother … the friend. He’s all of that and more to our students.”
Robinson was humbled for the recognition but took it as an opportunity to share with his students who now have another reminder that setbacks do not define one’s life. He vowed to champion for economic and cultural equity.
“By economic equity, we need to make sure all students receive the resources to achieve what he or she deserves. And cultural equity, we need to make sure that all students have teachers and people who look like them who are relevant to their culture and can inspire them to do whatever,” Robinson said.