Alumni In Careers
MUSD GRADUATE Returns home to flourish and give back to her community
By Laura Toney, College and Career Readiness Coordinator
O\ur first Alumni in Careers featured in this inaugural We Believe News section is Ms. Erika Rodriguez. Erika is the daughter of Cynthia and Jose Rodriguez of Madera. After successfully completing her eighth-grade requirements at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Erika graduated from Madera High School with the class of 2012. Erika went on to obtain a Liberal Studies degree from San Diego State. She also holds a Multiple Subject Credential and an Educational Specialist Credential to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities.
Erika is a first-year teacher at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, where she is currently teaching 8th grade history. She is delighted to have been able to return, as a teacher, to the same school she had attended barely over a decade ago.
On a recent visit to her classroom, Erika shared her economy program with us, and meticulously detailed the many facets of its comprehensive approach: for example, every student has a job for which they must apply, with the hiring process itself taking place in her classroom, as a confidence builder, and each student is to learn and understand responsibility by taking care of their own part of the program, within the class, each day. She offers her students flexible seating, during teaching and learning times, and encourages inquiry and collaboration at every opportunity.
Erika stated that her goal, this year, is to teach her students to successfully build their case, accumulate appropriate experience, and build up their own confidence, so they can positively advocate for their own success. She encourages her students to participate in their own IEP process by inviting them to be active contributors for their own student-led IEP.
Erika’s parting comments were: “I never thought I would ever teach middle school, but I am absolutely loving it. I can’t ever see myself doing anything else.” The Madera Unified School District is proud to have added Erika to its ranks. Erika is the perfect example of why prioritization of education and community pride can effectively combine into professional success, personal fulfillment, and how sharing our gifts within our community can bring joy and advanced competency to elevate our career goals, expectations and achievements.