Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: January 23, 2019
Contacts: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Education: Charles Pyle,, (804) 371-2420

Governor Northam Announces Virginia Teacher Named Finalist for 2019 National Teacher of the Year

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Rodney A. Robinson, a history teacher at Virgie Binford Education Center in Richmond, is one of four states’ teachers of the year named by the Council of Chief State School Officers as finalists for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.

Robinson learned of his selection this morning during a surprise assembly at his school—located inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center—that was attended by Governor Northam, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane, state Board of Education President Daniel A. Gecker and Vice President Diane T. Atkinson, Richmond School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page, Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras, and Virginia State University President Makolah Abdullah.

“Rodney is a remarkable educator and I wanted to be here today to personally congratulate him on this great honor,” said Governor Northam. “Our teachers play an important role in honing the skills and talents of our students, and I share Rodney’s commitment to preparing our young men and women for success beyond the classroom and in the 21st-century economy.”

“My students are the most vulnerable kids in society,” Robinson said in October after being named as 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year. “They have made mistakes that they are paying for but they still persevere and strive for success. They are my inspiration, and I will fight to my last heartbeat for them.”

Robinson was named 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year on October 16, 2018, during a recognition ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. He was selected from eight regional winners announced in September.

Robinson is a 19-year veteran of Richmond Public Schools. He began teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center in 2015. The center is one of 24 state-operated programs providing educational services to students in juvenile detention facilities. The Virginia Department of Education contracts with Richmond Public Schools to provide teachers, administrators, support staff and instructional materials for the center.

“This is a great honor for the Commonwealth to have an outstanding educator like Rodney named as a finalist for the national teacher of the year award,” Lane said. “It also recognizes Rodney’s commitment—and Virginia’s commitment—to meeting the needs of all learners.”

“Rodney epitomizes the passion Virginia teachers bring to the classroom every day and their determination to reach every student,” Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said. “I know every teacher in the Commonwealth is rooting for him to be named 2019 National Teacher of the Year.” 

“Rodney Robinson is the type of teacher that all parents want for their own children and that every single child in America deserves to have. He is skilled, passionate and inspiring. He is a constant learner who challenges himself and others around him to be the very best. And above all, he wholeheartedly believes that every child, regardless of circumstance or past mistakes, has the ability to achieve greatness,” Kamras said. “We were honored to have Governor Northam visit Virgie Binford Education Center and see just how great Rodney is for himself.”

“Mr. Robinson represents everything we stand for at Richmond Public Schools and we are beyond proud of him,” Page said. “The entire RPS family is behind Mr. Robinson and we know that he will be an outstanding ambassador for the teaching profession.” 

Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia State University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.

The 2019 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring at a White House ceremony. Two previous Virginia teachers—B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year—went on to be named National Teachers of the Year.

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