In an article by Education Week, written by contributing writer Sarah Schwartz, Rodney Robinson was announced as 2019 National Teacher of the Year. According to the article, Robinson teaches social studies to students in juvenile detention at the Virgie Binford Education Center in Richmond, Va.
With his new accolade, Robinson states that he will focus on “economic and cultural equity,” and “the resources for students to achieve and the opportunity for students to have teachers who look like them.”
According to the article Robinson believes “his students, who are all incarcerated, deserve as much of a chance to achieve as other teenagers.” As Robinson told CBS, “They just made mistakes, and they’re paying for mistakes… But America is a country of second chances.”
Robinson brings this method of social justice teaching in his social studies classroom:
“Robinson takes a student-centered approach to civics education, empowering his students to push for social change. With them, Robinson has explored the historical roots of the U.S. prison system, the ongoing effects of racial segregation, and voting rights.”
To this point, Robinson is most proud of his students when they “are able to legally advocate for themselves, resulting in a positive outcome in their legal case.”
Robinson hopes to further advocate for “prison reform and supporting education for incarcerated students.” Furthermore, he entreats the government to “adequately fund these education programs so that students can make the best of that opportunity,” and to “get rid of the stigma that no learning can take place in the juvenile justice system.”