In a world globally impacted by a major pandemic, 5th grade science teacher Ms. Rodriguez of Shearn Elementary has continued to find deeper meaning in her career as an educator. Despite the challenges faced, Ms. Rodriguez continues to share her wealth of knowledge in the classroom with her students.
Furthermore, Ms. Rodriguez’s passion for her students’ success is what fuels her drive daily. “My students are the ones that I’m representing [sitting] here today,” said Ms. Rodriguez. This academic year marks her fourth year of teaching both in HISD and at Shearn, teaching levels Kindergarten to 5th grade throughout her career.
Operating a classroom that is split between virtual and in person students keeps Ms. Rodriguez on her toes. Therefore, she engages her students by transforming the classroom into a creative “science space” for them to execute their special projects, experiments, and daily assignments. “My favorite things about teaching science would have to be teaching my students my love for science, and then them turning around and actually bringing their own little spin on science,” said Ms. Rodriguez.
To keep her students’ participation active, Ms. Rodriguez allows her students to develop a theme for the classroom’s lesson pacer application. “That’s probably one of the best things I could have done. It keeps my students engaged, it keeps them involved in the decision-making process, and it keeps them involved in the classroom,” said Ms. Rodriguez.
At one point, Ms. Rodriguez admitted to feeling the pressure of transitioning to a virtual environment when the pandemic began. One of the hardest obstacles that Ms. Rodriguez faced teaching remotely was keeping her students engaged for the full duration of class instruction. Nevertheless, with time and dedication, both Ms. Rodriguez and her students found their balance to get the work done.
“This past year has taught me that I can do hard things. Not only in my personal life, but also in my professional life,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “I didn’t know that I could teach remotely and do it well, and it also made me a better teacher.”
Overall, Ms. Rodriguez deeply appreciates the recognition for making a difference in the classroom. She credits her loving family, her supportive team at Shearn Elementary, and her students for giving her the courage to believe in her abilities as an educator. “Not everyone gets to teach what they love, and teach science, which is my ultimate favorite subject.”
Ms. Rodriguez is one of the six Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher finalists of the 2020 – 2021 alliantgroup-HISD Elementary Science Teacher Award! This award was created to reward local teachers who, through innovative lesson plans that emphasize both the importance and fun aspects of science, are increasing student achievement and engagement.
Five of the finalists received a cash prize of $1,300 and $500 for their classroom and the grand prize winner received a cash prize of $3,500 and $500 to put toward improving their classroom!
The Blue Heart Fund was created by alliantgroup’s CEO—Dhaval Jadav—with the goal of giving back to our community and extending STEM-education opportunities to students across the nation.
About the Author
Ivy Okoro is the newest member of the alliantgroup Corporate Citizenship team, joining the company in June 2021! She is a native Houstonian and communications professional with robust career experience in various industries – including Oil & Gas, Non-Profit, Media, and Marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Communications from the University of Houston and has notably served as managing project lead for the annual “Original” MLK, Jr. Birthday Day Parade in Downtown Houston. In addition to supporting STEM education in Houston community, Ivy enjoys volunteering for various causes year-round, singing, traveling, cooking, home spa days, and a good kickboxing workout!