I have worked for Richmond Public Schools for 21 years. I have seen and experienced a lot, both positive and negative in those years. In my first 7 years, I had a different principal every year. I was a teacher during the controversial Armstrong/Kennedy High School Merger. I was here when the entire school system was kicked out of city hall, putting essential records and documents in the street during the middle of the night (yes that happened). I, like other veteran teachers, have survived the revolving carousel of leadership and superintendents over the past 20 years.

Jason Kamras came…


I recently made a bad joke on Twitter about Rand Paul’s fight with his neighbors in relation to Mitch McConnell’s neighbors and I was wrong for that. No one should be assaulted. Due to my ignorance of the situation, I didn’t know Rand Paul was seriously injured in the altercation. I apologize for making light of his injuries. I do not advocate for violence against Mitch McConnell.

I often preach to my students and other teachers that the mirror is the biggest tool for improvement. You have to look into the mirror and ask yourself reflective questions and be honest…


Yesterday, I woke up to a country and a city in crisis. I had text messages from former students who are now in their late 20’s looking for guidance and advice. Teachers who are close friends and some strangers have asked for my advice on what they should be doing. I did my best to calm their fears and try to help them channel their anger, anxiety, and aggression into a more impactful way but soon became overwhelmed at the sheer hopelessness of the situation. Like everyone, I’ve been sulking and processing the events of the past week.

Politicians, the…


I remember sixth grade more than any other year in my schooling. It was the year of role reversal for my brother and me. Throughout our elementary years in school, we had two distinct roles. My brother was labeled by the school as the problem child and bully. I was a chubby, smart, honor roll student who rarely if ever got into trouble at school. Our parents treated us much differently than the school because they knew we were the same kid. My brother was just as smart, and I would say smarter than me. …


There has been a plethora of studies regarding the achievement gap and graduation gap over the last hundred years. Many educators and lawmakers have proposed thousands of solutions to the problem. The most effective way to close the achievement gap and graduation gap is to hire more teachers of color.

A recent study by Dr. Constance Lindsay and her colleagues at John Hopkins University says that black students who receive one black teacher in their elementary grades, are 39% less likely to drop out of school and are 19% more likely to go to college. …


The biggest roar you heard on Saturday when Joe Biden was named President-Elect was from educators. That roar was because an end to the Trump presidency means an end to Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education. There has never been a cabinet head in American history as unqualified as Betsy Devos. She possesses no educational background. She has never been a teacher, a public-school parent, a school board representative, or held any position in education. Furthermore, she has regularly diverted funds from public education into private schools. It is evident to me that she does not believe in public education


WEB Dubois said, “The proper education of any people includes a sympathetic touch between teacher and pupil; knowledge on the part of the teacher, not simply of the individual taught, but of his surroundings and background, and the history of his class and group”. He wrote this in his essay Does the Negro really need Separate Schools? He goes on to say “such contact between pupils, and between teacher and pupil…. will increase this sympathy and knowledge.” It may be hard to display that sympathetic touch necessary when you support a politician who calls Black teens thugs, Mexican teens rapists…


When I traveled the country as National Teacher of the Year, teachers would often ask what was the greatest tool for teachers to improve their craft. My answer would be the mirror. A true educator has to look in the mirror and ask themselves hard questions. What do I need to do to improve my lesson plans? Am I working hard enough to empower and uplift all children in my class? Am I truly an anti-racist teacher? Most importantly, they have to be honest with themselves when they look into that mirror. …


Ten years ago, I was in my class teaching a lesson on protest music during the Vietnam war when I heard a disturbance downstairs. I stepped out of my classroom with two students behind me to look downstairs to see what was causing the commotion. I saw a student running up the stairs at high speed with a panicked look. Right behind him was a police officer, gun drawn in hand. I immediately pushed my students back into the classroom and dove in behind them. After the adrenaline from what had just happened calmed down, I had several questions. Why…

Rodney Robinson

Sr Advisor Richmond Public Schools, 2019 National Teacher of the Year

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