The IRC (Indiana Remembrance Coalition) is pleased to announce the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship for one teacher to attend the St. Luke’s UMC Pilgrimage to Montgomery in April of 2022. This stipend will allow the recipient to experience the Civil Rights movement as it occurred and continues to unfold under the leadership of the Equal Justice Initiative founder, Bryan Stevenson. This trip reveals anew Stevenson’s vision of truth-telling about our history of slavery, racial terror killings, and mass incarceration. The illumination of that dark history and its continuing legacy is the inspiration for the work that is being done today by the IRC. Because the SLUMC-led trip has become a touchstone for the work of the IRC, we felt it was important to offer a local educator the opportunity to learn about the anti-racist work being done and to use that in teaching students, families, and teachers.
Finding a worthy candidate became the task of Dr. Patricia Payne, Director of IPS Racial Equity Office, and Clete Ladd, Associate Professor, University of Phoenix and Martin University. They graciously volunteered to nominate a wonderful recipient. Their enthusiastic choice: Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, Principal of the Newcomer Program. This school’s mission is to provide academic and intellectual support to help students and their families acclimate to their new country. The Newcomer Program was selected for a School of Excellence Award by the Urban League of Indianapolis, and Dr. Rodriguez has been honored multiple times for excellence in teaching and received the Jefferson Award- Multiplying the Good by WRTV.
Of Puerto Rican descent, Spanish was Dr. Rodriguez’s first language. This meant young Rodriguez began his public schooling in Gary, Indiana at a disadvantage. Placed with other students who were also looked upon as “other”, Rodriguez managed to master the English language well enough to realize that being “othered” in the public schools meant one thing: being placed in all remedial courses. He was bored in his classes – he wanted to be challenged, and to learn what a mainstream student would learn. So he devised a clever plan to access the excellent courses he so desired, courses like higher math, great literature, Physics. He knew he could do well in these subjects if he could get the chance to prove himself. And despite the difficulty of learning the subject matter, and in his second language besides, he excelled and never stopped doing so.
He has acquired an EdD in education specializing in English as a Second Language and has turned his education and experience into a forceful mission for students. He works tirelessly, enthusiastically and beyond the school walls, leading workshops, acting as a panelist for various universities and institutions representing the diverse population he serves. Dr. Rodriguez brings educators together and inspires them to encourage diverse learners to aim high, confront and reject “rejection”, and embrace their cultural backgrounds and each other as a powerful community of learners working toward a future of choices.
We applaud Dr. Rodriguez and are looking forward to learning from and with him. Congratulations!
Daughter and Father, Nuri Rodriguez and Dr. Arturo Rodriguez. Inspired by her father’s example, Nuri has begun her teaching career in IPS this year.