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REAL LIFE YBF: Virginia Teacher Rodney Robinson Named 2019 National Teacher Of The Year, And His Story Has Our Jaws On The Floor!

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A black man was named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year! Meet Rodney Robinson inside...

Rodney Robinson (aka Big Rob) is a black man working every day to empower black youth and we stan a real life YBFer. Now, he's being recognized for all his good efforts.

The 19-year teaching veteran won the 2019 National Teacher of the Year award after topping more than 3.6 million other teachers in the U.S. for the honor. He teaches young, black youth at Virgie Binford Educational Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Richmond, Va. A job he said he took because he wanted to better understand why so many students go directly from school to prison.

“Kids deserve a second chance and I’m here to give them that chance that they deserve,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes all children deserve a great education, but he understands all students aren't on the same level. So, his goal is to make sure every student gets what they need to achieve at a high level.

"I give my kids empathy, not sympathy, and that's the key," Robinson told The Associated Press. "It's all about empathizing — understanding their situation, but teaching them how to overcome."

As Teacher of the Year, Robinson will spend the next year traveling the country to advocate for students and teachers. He said he plans to focus on ensuring equity for all students and recruiting more black and Hispanic men as teachers. Robinson is among just about 2% of teachers in U.S. public schools who are black men. Another 2% are Hispanic men.

The 40-year-old is graduate of Virginia State University, a historically black university (HBCU). He earned a master's degree from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education and has taught history/social studies to students from sixth to twelfth grade. He covers his classroom walls with images of famous African Americans — scientists, politicians, writers and other heroes to the students - to show his students if they can do it, so can you.

The veteran teacher says he became a teacher in honor of his mother, who struggled to get her high school diploma amid poverty and segregation in rural Virginia. While he was high school, his mom went back to school to receive her GED.

"I saw a different side of my mother in those classes, and I really enjoyed that side. I was like, is this what learning does? It inspires this type of feeling?" he said. "That really inspired me to become a teacher."

He also credits his father for being the backbone of their family and teaching him the value of hard work:



"My mom was my inspiration for education but my dad was the backbone of the family who taught me the values of hard work and family," he tweeted." He and mom were married almost 40 years before he passed. I know he is looking down with pride and I hope to be half the man he was."

Robinson worked at Armstrong High School, a school in a section of Richmond plaqued by crime and violence. After 12 years there, he took the job at the dentention center. The crimes the youth at the center are charged with range from robbery all the way up to murder.

"What better way to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline than to go into an actual jail or prison and teach the children," he said.

During his time at the dentention center, he has seen some heartbreaking things, but that's what keeps him motivated to help empower these kids to do better.

He shared the story - which had all of our jaws on the floor - of two students he assigned to work on a project together. Six months later, one of the students was dead and the other was charged with his murder. Tragic.

"Having to compartmentalize that and still give that kid a quality education, that's hard," he said. "My kids have overcome some tremendous odds and been through some traumatic, horrific circumstances, yet they still triumph, they still have dreams, they will want to be doctors and lawyers and everything you can of."

"Helping kids channel all that energy and dreams into something positive to where they can see an outcome and a result, that is what I love most about teaching."

Whew.  An inspiration.

Peep his interview on "CBS This Morning" below:

He's already back at work and ready to turn up with his students:




Today, he was celebrated at his school for the national honor:,



Congrats, Mr. Robinson! Keep doing what you're doing because it's much needed.


Photos: Rodney Robinson/YouTube Screenshot

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