FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Issued By: Superintendent Sean McPhetridge (510) 337-7060 and
Board President Solana Henneberry (510) 337-7187
Alameda, Calif. — May 27, 2016 — The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History last week announced that Brian Rodriguez – a history teacher at AUSD's Alameda Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) – has been chosen as its 2016 California History Teacher of the Year.
A panel of teachers, administrators, and scholars from across the state chose Rodriguez based on his "innovative history curricula, which fosters a spirit of inquiry while emphasizing critical skills in U.S. history, Modern World History, Humanities, and Economics," the institute announced in a press release.
Rodriguez taught history at Encinal High School for 19 years before joining the ASTI faculty in 2014. He received his undergraduate degree in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, a law degree from University of Southern California, and a teaching credential from Holy Names College in Oakland. He was named AUSD's Teacher of the Year in 2008.
"I am thrilled and honored to receive this award," Rodriguez said. "My father was a poor Mexican-American kid whose life was radically changed for the better by the kindness and care of a school nurse and a teacher. That made a tremendous difference to my family. I have never forgotten that, and I try to fulfill that role every day for Alameda students."
Recognizing the "Crucial Importance of History Education"
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a New York–based national nonprofit devoted to the teaching and learning of American history. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians. The History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring an exceptional American history teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories. A "National History Teacher of the Year" will be selected from this list of state winners and honored at a ceremony in New York City next fall.
As part of his recognition, Mr. Rodriguez will receive a $1,000 honorarium from the institute, and ASTI's library will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials. ASTI also becomes a "Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School," which gives its teachers access to regional forums with noted historians and extensive resources to use in the classroom.
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer nominated Mr. Rodriguez for the award. He submitted two lessons with his application: one in which students trace their family history through US history and one on the September 11, 2001 attacks. (You can read our community bulletin about that lesson here.)
"Democracy is Not Passive"
For Rodriguez, history isn't about a dusty past; it's about an engaged present and better future. "I teach my students that democracy is not passive," he says. "This year my students were inspired to be advocates for social justice. After a lesson on the school to prison pipeline, they started a tutoring program at a local elementary school, and after learning about immigration, they made a school-wide video inviting a young Syrian refugee to our school. Other students travelled with a Congressional delegation to South Carolina with the MLK Freedom Center and started soccer programs for the disabled. There is no more exciting place than a vibrant history classroom."
ASTI is AUSD's Early College High School, which means students can earn college credits in addition to a high school diploma. It is supported by Measure A, a parcel tax approved by Alameda voters in 2011.
"Brian Rodriguez is an innovative teacher at an innovative high school," Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said. "Our students are so fortunate to have the opportunity to go to this school and to benefit from the experience and creativity of passionate teachers like Brian. ASTI and AUSD are lucky to benefit from his service in the classroom!"
Alameda Unified School District serves more than 9600 students in Alameda, Calif., an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit the AUSD website, follow @AUSDNews on Twitter, or subscribe to our email communications. Questions? Contact Susan Davis, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.