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Rodney Robinson      

2019 National Teacher of the Year

Rodney Robinson has over 20 years experience as an educator with Richmond Public Schools. He graduated from King William High School in rural Virginia in 1996. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia State University in 2000 and a master’s in educational administration and Supervision from VCU in 2011. In 2015, he started teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside Richmond Juvenile Jail, in an effort to better understand the school to prison pipeline. His classroom is a collaborative partnership between him and the students. He provides a civic centered education that promotes social-emotional growth. The knowledge he is gaining from his students is also helping develop alternative programs to keep students from becoming part of the school to prison pipeline.

His accomplishments in education vary from his professional growth to his students’ personal growth. He has been published four times by Yale University. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in and out of the classroom, most notably the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. He has worked with Pulitzer winning author James Foreman to develop curriculum units on Race, Class, and Punishment as a part of the Yale Teachers Institute.

He was named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief States Schools’ Officers. He used his time as teacher of the year to advocate for cultural equity to make sure students have teachers and administrators who look like them and value their culture. He was named 2019 HBCU male alumnus of the year by He was named #8 on the Root magazine’s Top 100 influential African Americans of 2019. He was also named 2019 Richmonder of the Year by Richmond Magazine and the Richmond Times Dispatch. He is currently a Senior Advisor with Richmond Public Schools in charge of Teacher and Leader Pathways. He has started the RVA Men Teach Program to recruit and retain male teachers of color in Richmond Public Schools. His passion is helping the underprivileged and underrepresented populations in America.

Speech Topics

Alleviating the Invisible Tax on Teachers of Color: Supporting anti-racism and equity work in your school

The Invisible Tax is a theory by Former US Secretary of Education John King that states teachers of color have a higher workload than other teachers. They must meet the pedagogical needs of their students like all teachers, but also deal with cultural duties such as leading DEI work and protecting students from racism, classism, and xenophobia. This leads to a higher rate of teacher burnout and causes them to leave the profession at a higher rate than other teachers. Rodney will challenge the audience to audit their support for teachers of color and Equity work by providing key guiding questions for educators. Educators will leave with a plan to support their colleagues and students and improve their learning environment in their school.


He teaches incarcerated kids to honor his mom who was denied education. Now, he's National Teacher of the Year.
Rodney Robinson's mom grew up during segregation and wasn't able to graduate from high school due to poverty. Still, she taught him to value learning.

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