A Change of Face: A Look Into What Mrs. Rodriguez Brings to the Table

Maddie Cohen Co-Editor-in-Chief   Santa Monica, California was both Mrs. Rodriguez’s birthplace and the inspiration behind her first name. “I moved here after high school,” she explained. “I’ve been in Chicago ever since then with just a couple breaks. I’ve worked at five schools in the past, all independent with the one exception of a charter school. That was the most recent one I was at, Morgan Park Academy, a pre-K though twelfth grade school similar to Latin. I started off there as a Spanish teacher in the high school, and then moved up to World Language Department Chair. Then after that, I moved to Assistant Director in the high school—I did that for four years, which I really, really enjoyed. And then I moved to Director of Global Studies, which is similar to what Mrs. Dorer does here at Latin. And then my most recent position was the director of studies, which I had for two years.” Mrs. Rodriguez knew of Latin long before her first interview for the job. “My husband’s cousin went to Latin. She came here some years ago and so while I had heard of the school, I learned more of it just through my conversations with her. And you know, this school really made an impact on her life. All that I heard made a strong impression, especially the reputation for strong academics, athletics, the arts—just all of it. And of course, just to be right in the city is an amazing part of the school. When I first visited campus for my interview, I was struck by how warm and welcoming everybody was. And I don’t know if I really saw that coming. I wasn’t expecting, like, anger or anything, but it just seemed so genuine and so sincere, and that really made a huge impact.” “In terms of the students, my goal is to make sure you guys get the best education you possibly can. I want to learn how I can facilitate that in working with the deans, working with the department chairs, working with the student support team, the parents, and most importantly, you guys,” referring to the students. Even though the year has just begun, she’s already got a vision for her role even beyond the simple requirements in her job description. “Ultimately this is your school, and sometimes I feel that—and not saying just at Latin, I’m saying in general—adults get so excited and caught up in what they want to give, that at times we miss out on that student voice. I want to know what you guys are interested in and what you want to see.” She is currently working on a way to best meet with all the groups at Latin. “I’ll be going around, visiting classes, performances, athletic events, so I’ll get an idea of the student body and student and teacher interactions. You guys will see me around.” It’s undeniable that Mrs. Rodriguez is energetic, excited, and optimistic, but she is fully prepared for the harder parts of her job. As Upper School Director, she has the less glamorous responsibility of addressing some of Latin’s issues that are more difficult to confront. “I will say that if there’s am issue involving student discipline, like maybe it’s known amongst the school that this is what’s going down in this classroom or on the field, whatever it might be, I’d really like to also hear what the kids have to say. Because it is your school. The adults, we can make all the rules, but I think it’s super, super important that you have a voice in those things. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree, you’re not going to make everyone happy, but I do think that transparency and communication is so important. And I think in high schools, sometimes we don’t give kids a voice. I will obviously handle difficult situations seriously, and I’ll handle each one separately depending on what it is, but I want to make sure we look at it from all sides.” When she’s not directing the upper school, Mrs. Rodriguez is an adventurer at heart. She loves to travel, particularly internationally and off the beaten path. She’s lived in Hawaii and Spain, has been to several jungles and has gotten lost in the middle of nowhere (and she once casually bumped into the Dalai Lama during a trip to India). But as amazing as her stories are, and for as much as she has seen and accomplished, Mrs. Rodriguez is first and foremost an incredibly kind and down-to-earth person. From her first introduction to the freshmen at an orientation, to her welcoming the whole school at a gathering on the first day of school, students and faculty alike have picked up on her passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to her work.  We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mrs. Rodriguez into the Latin community.   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7ebaVOIKQU[/embed]]]>