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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Top Ten Educators of the Year - Brian Rodriguez

Brian Rodriguez
Social Science Co-Chair
Encinal High School
Alameda, CA

Top Ten Educators Of The Year Brian Rodriguez

Encinal High School teacher Brian Rodriguez, surrounded by his students

NSHSS is pleased to have announced its Top Ten Educators of the Year in December 2012 and is highlighting these educators throughout the year. The 2012 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year awards were presented to ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success in college and in life. These educators are among NSHSS’s student-nominated Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction program that recognizes educators who model best practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers, and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education. Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 35,000 educators worldwide. 

History teacher Brian Rodriguez serves as the Encinal High School social science co-chair. He is a guiding member of the Junior Jets Program and 2008 Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Teacher of the Year who has worked for the district for 18 years. His primary teaching responsibilities have been Advanced Placement courses in American, European, and world history. In the summer of 2012,  he conducted a motivational "AP Boot Camp" designed to induct a wider, more diverse, range of students into the rigorous Advance Placement courses at Encinal.

He earned a B.S. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from the University of Southern California, but developed a passion for teaching. He has been recognized for his dedication and innovative approach to teaching, having received, in addition to the Claes Nobel Top Ten Educators Award, the University of California, San Diego, Outstanding Teacher Award of Excellence; Newsweek Magazine, America’s Best High Schools, Interview 2005-6, 2006-7; Alameda Unified School District Teacher of the Year 2008-9; California State Senate, Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Teaching 2008; and United States Congress, Certification of Congressional Recognition for Teaching 2008, among others.

"I am honored that Mr. Nobel has chosen me for this award. I really believe this award is a tribute to the terrific students I have had at EHS over the years," Rodriguez said. "My philosophy has always been that no one rises to low standards, so I keep my standards high. I am excited every day to be in the classroom, challenging, encouraging and facilitating growth in my students."

His teaching practices are designed for students to look forward to and remember their classes. One of his methods includes encouraging students to use their bodily-kinesthetic as well as musical learning modalities--each December, his students perform in a Songfest, where they take pop songs and change the lyrics to reflect the history that they have learned, singing and dancing in front of a thousand spectators at a major fundraiser for their school

Summing up  what makes teaching so worthwhile to him, explained:  "When all is said and done, the most rewarding part about teaching is the feedback that I receive from students who have left for college, the military, or to enter the private sector. I am privileged to teach many fine students who eventually attend Brown, Harvard, Stanford, and all the UC's in our state. Still others come back in their uniforms or with photos of their children. But the students I love hearing from the most, are the ones who would not have gone to college or are the first in their families to attend. Another tremendous reward has been working with the learning disabled. I have been able to adjust my teaching methods to meet the needs of several special education students each year in advanced placement classes. Every student can learn and deserves the best teacher. I have always tried to be that teacher for them."

NSHSS Chair Mr. Claes Nobel will present the Top Ten Educator Award to Mr. Rodriguez at Scholar's Day in Washington, D.C. this summer.

Read more about Mr. Rodriguez and his approach to teaching at