Teacher Feature

TEACHER FEATURE: Julio Rodriguez



Degrees and Certifications:

Julio Rodriguez

Science Teacher 7-12
Denzel Washington School of the Arts
Number of Years in the District:  1.5 years

Name of College(s) and Degrees Held:
Colgate University B.A. in Physics [1993]
Columbia University M.S. in Material Science & Engineering [1994]
High School Graduation:
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of the Music & Arts and the Performing Arts [1988]

What inspired you to pursue a career in education and why?
As I progressed in the world of education, I began to notice that there was a disproportionate amount of people of color in the field of science.  As a person who grew up in an environment similar to most of our students in our district, I felt it was my destiny to inspire more students to pursue a career in science. 

How did your experience as a student influence your teaching style?
Most of my middle and high school science teachers did not have the tools to engage and inspire students to pursue careers in science; the classes were boring and they did not differentiate their instruction nor relate the materials learned in the class to ‘outside world.’  I did not take science seriously until I came across a college professor that used comedy and a variety of teaching styles that inspired me to major in science.  My teaching style is similar to the science presenter in the successful series called, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

What do you love most about your role within the Mount Vernon City School District and why?
Due to the fact that most of our scholars are people of color, I feel that I can make a positive impact in their lives.  Our scholars need to see that adults who grew up with similar social and economic disadvantages use education to rise in the field of science. 

What strategies and techniques do you use to engage students in the curriculum, and how do you use them?
It is important for my scholars to understand the objective of my lesson and relate its importance to their everyday activities.  During any one of my lessons, I use a quote or a poem to introduce and/or reinforce a concept. I would also make sure that there is some form of note-taking activity that involves the use of short videos, PowerPoint presentations, or live demonstrations.  Hands-on activities and other performance-based projects are also part of my instructional toolbox.  Over the course of my teaching career, I have found that student-centered instruction enables my scholars to retain information and achieve higher scores in their assessments.