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The Suburbanite
  • Teacher uses classroom to pay it forward

  • This month’s featured teacher from Jackson Local Schools is a physical education teacher at Sauder Elementary. Dan Rodriguez became a teacher so he could give back to others. He said he received a lot of support when he was younger and teaching is his way of paying it forward.

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  • This month’s featured teacher from Jackson Local Schools is a physical education teacher at Sauder Elementary. Dan Rodriguez became a teacher so he could give back to others. He said he received a lot of support when he was younger and teaching is his way of paying it forward.
    “So many people stepped up for me when I was young, and teaching is my way of stepping up for others in a different way,” Rodriguez said.
    Rodriguez teaches physical education for children in kindergarten through 5th grade. He also coaches 8th grade girls’ basketball and is the junior varsity head baseball coach.
    When the Jackson Suburbanite caught up with him, he was asking his 5th grade class why jumping rope is a good form of exercise. For those that might be wondering, the answer is that jumping rope is a full body workout.
    Home  Rodriguez and his family recently moved to Jackson Township. He grew up in Chardon and graduated from Chardon High School.
    Teaching position  Physical education for students in kindergarten through 5th grade. Rodriguez said he incorporates a range of activities from jump rope to gymnastics. He also includes skill-specific activities such as  throwing and catching a ball or sports such as hockey as well as teaching nutrition and team building.
    Rodriguez has taught at Sauder for two years. Before that, he taught for two years in the Field Local School district in Mogadore.
    Credentials  Undergraduate degree in educational studies from Kent State University. Master’s degree in physical education and teacher education from Kent State University.
    Family  Wife, Faith, and two children: 2-year-old Emilio and 1-year-old Ruby.
    Mantra he lives by  “The two major components I live my life by are hard work and understanding. I like to understand the things I teach kids at school and my own kids at home,” Rodriguez said.
    Memorable book  “Hatchett” by Gary Paulsen
    Music  Any type except country
    Favorite TV show  “Modern Family”
    Three things to do in this lifetime   
    1. Go to Alaska
    2. Visit a different country
    3. Be a good dad
    An “a-ha” moment that changed his life  “When I came to know God was a powerful moment. I found purpose and felt like I belonged. I took ownership of ... my life. It happened when I was in college. I was also blessed to find this teaching job. There were hundreds of applications for this job and I didn’t have any connections in the area, but God provided the opportunity for me to work in this great district.”
    Words that he would use to describe himself  
    Page 2 of 2 - 1. Hard working
    2. Enthusiastic
    3. A believer
    Most creative when  “I feel most creative when I don’t have anything on my mind other than what I need to be thinking about at a specific time.”
    I really wish I knew how to  Dance
    Secret talent  Fly fishing
    Advice to those thinking of becoming a teacher  “I would advise others who think they may want to teach is to first make sure you want to teach to help the kids. And to always be willing to be changed and to change. Every student is different and every class is different. You may have to change what you do each year because of the differences in the kids from year to year.”
    General comments  “I do a jump rope club here in the mornings before school. We had 90 kids come to the morning exercises last year, and that says a lot about this district to have that kind of response. The club was really cool and we’ll be starting it again in February. I’ve also held a corn hole tournament for the past two years after school. We had 32 teams of kids with a parent turn out for that. We were able to offer prizes donated by local businesses, all of which speaks volumes about this district and this community.
    “This district amazes me. They are doing everything right. The district is great, the community is great and the parents and kids are great. I love being here and raising my own kids here.”
    What others are saying  Jeremy Evans teaches 5th grade at Sauder Elementary and has known Rodriguez for the past two years.
    “Mr. Rodriguez’s approach to physical education is refreshing and different. The kids really enjoy taking his class. They learn about a particular sport and about themselves and they gain self-confidence, plus the kids just love it,” Evans said.