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#PREPpeople: Jared Rodriguez '09
Posted 03/14/2019 05:44PM

One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John’s Prep

Jared Rodriguez '09HOMETOWN: Gloucester, Mass.

EDUCATION: Diploma, St. John’s Prep ’09; B.A. History (education minor), University of New Hampshire; M.Ed. UNH

YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: Four (previously at Meadowbrook School of Weston)

SUBJECT: Middle School Social Studies

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING?: “Education was always emphasized in my house. My grandmother on my dad’s side back in Cuba had to leave school to take care of his family, so my father always preached that education is the key to a happy, healthy, and wealthy life—in that order. History was the subject that really resonated with me as a student. I asked myself: How can I keep learning and be passionate about my job? An office job was never going to do it for me. I’ve always believed that being able to learn should be a basic human right, and if there’s a way I can help others receive the same caliber of education I received, then why not?”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?: “I think it goes back to that lifelong-learning concept. The greatest philosophers I encounter are my students, even when we’re studying ancient philosophers. The questions and ideas they come up with, I would never have on my own. In the Middle School, they still have all their innocence and openness intact, and they push themselves and want to learn. I learn from them every day. That was something I heard a lot growing up, but in this job, it’s really true. People think I’m a saint for teaching middle school, but it’s genuinely a great experience.”

DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: “I’d have to start at home with my parents. My mom was my PE teacher growing up. With my dad, everything was a lesson: the proper way to greet people, good manners, stuff like that. St. John’s ceramics teacher Dale Bryant (now retired) is someone I admire. She always got the best out of her students—pushing them, but all the while, supportive. St. John’s English teacher John Roy ’87 took my passion for books to another level. He has a way of leveling with kids and sparking your interest. St. John’s history teacher Dana Smith has a clear passion for his subject matter and his students; being in his class was eye-opening. You could tell: that’s a historian who also loves teaching. He can blend both and he’s still inspiring kids today.”

WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: “My dad doesn’t talk much about his transition from a Cuban household to the American school system, but he tells this story about the first day he went to school, sitting in fourth-grade English as a Spanish speaker with no ESL support. From the age of 10, he had to be the negotiator for everything for his parents: from buying cars to paying rent. He had a fifth grade teacher who invested in him and turned it around for him, and even helped the whole family speak better English. That keeps me continually mindful that everyone brings a unique life experience to this campus. It’s largely about making connections and learning about relationships and taking advantage of those teaching moments—that is what’s of paramount importance.”

FUN FACT: “I’m from Gloucester and I don’t like seafood. I take a lot of heat for that. I was on the sailing team in college, which some people find surprising. Also, I seriously considered going to art school because of my experience with Dale Bryant in ceramics. The road not taken, I guess.”

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