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Virginia Teacher Named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year

Washington, D.C. – The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced that Rodney Robinson, a social studies teacher in Richmond, Virginia, is the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.  

Rodney teaches social studies at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Justice Center, where he creates a positive school culture by empowering his students – many of whom have experienced trauma – to become civically-minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities. Robinson, who has taught for 19 years, uses a whole child approach to education to help his students gain the academic and social-emotional skills they need to move beyond their past mistakes and pursue their dreams for a better future.  

“I am honored and humbled to be the 2019 National Teacher of the Year,” Robinson said. “This year I hope to be the voice for my students and all students who feel unseen, unheard, unappreciated and undervalued in America.” 

The National Teacher of the Year Program, run by CCSSO, identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.  

As the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Robinson will spend a year traveling nationally and internationally to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. Robinson plans to focus his year-long advocacy efforts on creating an equitable education for all students, and improving the teacher pipeline by recruiting more men of color into the field of education.  

“Every student in this country deserves access to a teacher who is committed to their success. Through the National Teacher of the Year Program, CCSSO is honored to support the nation’s great teachers,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of CCSSO. “I congratulate Rodney Robinson on this outstanding recognition and look forward to him engaging in conversations across the country about ways to address the school-to-prison pipeline and improve educational equity for all students.” 

Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, the National Teacher of the Year is chosen by a selection committee composed of 16 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators, parents, and students. 

The selection committee said in a statement: “The National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee has chosen Rodney Robinson to be the 2019 National Teacher of the Year because he is passionate both about the subject he teaches (history) and the relationships he has with students. His 19 years of commitment and dedication to teaching should be applauded by all and recognized as the model for teaching across the nation. He has made teaching a part of his mission in life and it is exemplified in his actions and practices. He inspires with his stories, speaks from the heart, and is improving the lives of his students through his work.” 

 "We are so excited for Rodney and the Commonwealth," said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. "Rodney Robinson is an amazing educator who epitomizes the qualities of the teachers we want every Virginia student to experience. Rodney's passion for kids and his dedication to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to maximize their potential shines through in everything he does, each and every day. As an educator, working with students who face a multitude of challenges, teaching as a member of a school division team and a state-operated program, his commitment to educational excellence and supporting the social-emotional learning of his students has made a tremendous difference in the lives of Virginia students. The entire state joins in honoring Mr. Robinson and we are so proud to call him the National Teacher of the Year!"   

The finalists for 2019 National Teacher of the Year are Donna Gradel (Oklahoma), Kelly Harper (Washington, D.C.), and Danielle Riha (Alaska). You can read more about the finalists here.  

Learn more about Rodney Robinson, including his biography and photos, at