Teaching Profession News in Brief

Detained Youths Get Top Teacher

By Sarah Schwartz — April 30, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A social studies teacher who works with students in juvenile detention at the Virgie Binford Education Center in Richmond, Va., has won the 2019 National Teacher of the Year award.

In the announcement last week on CBS This Morning, Rodney Robinson credited his mother, who ran an in-home day care, with forming his approach to education.

“She always taught us that every child deserves the proper amount of love that he or she needs,” he said. “So that was my first lesson in equity.”

As Teacher of the Year, Robinson will focus on “economic and cultural equity,” he said—the resources for students to achieve and the opportunity for students to have teachers who look like them.

“Throughout my schooling, I only had one black male teacher the entire time,” Robinson said in an interview with Education Week. The teacher led band class, which Robinson took in grades 5-12. Robinson liked playing music, but this teacher was one of the main reasons he stuck with the class for so many years. “It meant so much to see someone like me in the classroom,” he said.

Robinson said his students deserve as much of a chance to achieve as other teenagers. “They just made mistakes, and they’re paying for mistakes,” he said on the morning news show. “But America is a country of second chances.”

In his social studies classes, Robinson empowers his students to push for social change. With them, he has explored the roots of the U.S. prison system, the ongoing effects of racial segregation, and voting rights.

“One of the proudest moments is when my students are able to legally advocate for themselves, resulting in a positive outcome in their legal case,” he wrote in his Teacher of the Year application.

Other finalists this year were Donna Gradel, an environmental-science and innovative-research teacher in Broken Arrow, Okla.; Kelly Harper, a 3rd grade teacher in the District of Columbia, and Danielle Riha, a middle-grades teacher in Anchorage, Alaska.

A 19-year teaching veteran, Robinson started at the Binford center in 2015.

“I think we need to get rid of the stigma that no learning can take place in the juvenile-justice system,” Robinson told Education Week. “Kids come in with the opportunity to reset and refocus.” Governments must adequately fund these programs, he said.

The U.S. Department of Education recently held a forum on education for incarcerated students, an issue the Trump administration has highlighted as a priority.

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2019 edition of Education Week as Detained Youths Get Top Teacher

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession The Teaching Profession Is 'Crumbling': What Can School Leaders Do to Help?
Longstanding problems are more urgent as schools struggle to meet students' emotional and academic needs.
4 min read
Conceptual Image of a teacher feeling low
Delmaine Donson/E+
Teaching Profession Q&A 'Brown v. Board' Decimated the Black Educator Pipeline. A Scholar Explains How
A new book digs into a lesser-known and negative consequence of one of the nation's most significant civil rights milestones.
9 min read
As her pupils bend themselves to their books, teacher Marie Donnelly guides them along in their studies at P.S. 77 in the Glendale section of Queens, New York, Sept. 28, 1959. In her 40 years of teaching, never has Donnelly had so many African-American students in a class. The youngsters were bused to the school from Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, a predominantly black neighborhood where schools are overcrowded. P.S. 77, which had an enrollment of 368 all-white students, can handle 1000 children comfortably. Parents in the Queens neighborhoods objected to influx, but the children themselves adjusted to one another without incident.
A white teacher teaches a newly integrated class at P.S. 77 in the Glendale section of Queens, N.Y., in September 1959.
AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Short On Substitute Teachers? Here's Something States Can Do
Student teachers can make good substitutes, but the rules often don't allow them to step in, write two researchers.
Dan Goldhaber & Sydney Payne
4 min read
Conceptual illustration of a new employee fitting into the workplace puzzle
Sergey Tarasov/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words 'I'm Afraid to Return to the Classroom': A Gay Teacher of the Year Speaks Out
Willie Carver, Jr., the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, is questioning his future as a teacher given recent anti-LGBTQ legislative efforts.
8 min read
Montgomery County teacher and Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Willie Carver, in downtown Mt. Sterling, Ky., on May 11, 2022.
Willie Carver is the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and teaches high school English and French in the Montgomery County, Ky., public schools.
Arden Barnes for Education Week