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Richmond’s Rodney Robinson Aims to Shine Light on Lack of Black Men in His Field

This article and photo originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and are reprinted with permission.

Calvin Sorrell was the only black male teacher Rodney Robinson had.

He taught in King William County for three dozen years and remembers Robinson as knowledgeable, caring and talented. Robinson was shy, though, lacking many teachers who looked like him.

“The potential was there; he just had to come out a little bit,” Sorrell said. “I knew he always had the ability.”

Robinson looked up to the one black male teacher he did have, who taught him how to play the trombone, baritone and tuba. He became a teacher to give students the teacher he had only once, among other reasons.

“Kids need positive role models,” Sorrell said of being a black male teacher. “It gives them someone to look up to, and he was no exception.”

It surprised him when Robinson became a teacher, but knowing Robinson now, a man driven to improve teacher diversity while getting to know his students, Sorrell was not shocked to find out last week that Robinson is the National Teacher of the Year.

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