Vasti Rodriguez ’11 ’15 Named First Year Teacher of the Year

Vasti7336When ECU alumna Vasti Rodriguez left the Dominican Republic for the United States, she already had an idea of what she wanted to do. Driven by her knowledge of the difference between the countries’ two different education systems, Rodriguez wanted to help students who need more individual attention.

“My experiences as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic helped [me] understand English language learners and ESL students,” said Rodriguez. “I understand the importance of using differentiation during a lesson and providing testing accommodations to students.”

Already 13 years old when she moved, some would think Rodriguez would struggle. But instead of struggling, Rodriguez has flourished. She currently works as a teacher at Wake County Schools and is already getting noticed for her hard work, as she was nominated for the county’s “First Year Teacher of the Year” award.

“I feel honored and surprised to be nominated for the “First Year Teacher of the Year” award. This whole year has been a learning process in instruction, classroom management, and developing my leadership skills in the classroom,” said Rodriguez. “Fuquay-Varina Middle School has a group of teachers that collaborate and enjoy teaching; their care for students’ education is contagious and motivates me to continue to grow as a teacher.”

Rodriguez is not only a great teacher, but also a devoted pirate. She completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ECU and credits a lot of her success to the time she spent at her alma mater.

“[ECU taught me about] “differentiation” and how we all learn differently. I need to provide different ways to teach a lesson and allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge in their best capabilities,” said Rodriguez. “I continue to use strategies from my experiences as a graduate assistant and from my internship.”

With the early success and recognition it may be easy for many to stay focused on the present, but not for Rodriguez. She’s already focused on other goals, and hopes to achieve her dream job: a university professor position at ECU.

“I plan to continue working as a teacher while pursuing my doctorate degree. So far, I am interested in international comparative education and education psychology,” said Rodriguez. “I still haven’t decided [about leaving Wake County for ECU]. It would be a privilege to return to my alma mater as a university professor.”

With a successful start to her career, everything is looking up for Rodriguez. She had a message that she wanted to share with her fellow Pirates:

“I thank God every day for the support I received from teachers in the College of Education who helped me graduate and persevere through difficult circumstances,” said Rodriguez. “ECU is a great school! Take advantage of the opportunities!”

By Michael Avila

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