with Rodney Robinson & Dr. Curtis Jones
This issue’s Leader Spotlight explores how America is delivering on the promise of education through the eyes of the superintendent of the nation’s sixth-largest school district and a tech entrepreneur turned computer science advocate.
Rodney Robinson is the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. He teaches social studies in Richmond, Virginia at the Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the city’s Juvenile Detention Center. Robinson teaches ages 10-18 using a social studies curriculum that he developed in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Forman Jr. of Yale University which centers on juvenile justice and the prison system. Robinson believes his students are the most vulnerable in society, and as a result, he has worked to create a positive school culture by empowering his students — many of whom have experienced trauma — to become civically minded social advocates who can use their skills and voices to create change in their communities.
What makes you hopeful about the future of your students and education overall?
I think kids today are amazing. They’re so much more resilient than our generation, and so much more caring, and so much more passionate. They give me hope for the future. They really care about the issues. They advocate for themselves. That makes me hopeful for the future.
Dr. Curtis Jones is the 2019 National Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Jones began his career in education as a JROTC instructor after a 20-year career in the U.S. Army where he retired as a lieutenant colonel. After leading the Griffin-Spalding district for 18 years, Jones became superintendent of Bibb County School District in 2015. Leaning on his previous experience, he developed “Victory in Our Schools,” a strategic plan for the 24,000-student district. The plan, rooted in shared accountability and resource alignment, mapped out efforts to achieve five goals: increasing student achievement; increasing student and stakeholder engagement; increasing teacher and leader effectiveness; organizational reliability; and learning and growth.
I think we just need to get past this old adage that things aren’t as good as they used to be.
They are, and they’re better.