Rodriguez Nominated for OCPS Support Person of the Year
January 24, 2023
By J. Charlotte Jarrett ’08
Pathways to Teaching student and current teaching aide Alex Rodriguez ’23 is one of five finalists for Orange County Public Schools’ Support Person of the Year.
Many paraprofessionals working at Orange County Public Schools dream of leading a classroom of their own someday. For students like Alex Rodriguez ’23, that dream can become reality thanks to the Pathways to Teaching program, a dynamic partnership between Rollins College and Orange County Public Schools that allows students to complete a bachelor of arts in elementary education and become a certified teacher while continuing to work as a paraprofessional.
Hard Work Recognized
For Alex Rodriguez ’23, being nominated as one of just five finalists for OCPS Support Person of the Year, a highly prestigious award honoring educational personnel for the contributions they make to Orange County schools, was a milestone moment.
Through this opportunity, Rodriguez’s hard work as a paraprofessional and his dedication in the Pathways to Teaching program shine through, spotlighting both the educator and the student within.
When Rodriguez found out he was nominated for OCPS Support Person of the Year, his principal announced the news over the intercom.
“All I heard was kids screaming and coming out into the hallway to congratulate me,” he recalls. “Truly a highlight memory for me."
As the praise flew in, Rodriguez went from never having met the superintendent to receiving a personal visit at work when she offered her congratulations. He sees this prestigious nomination as a huge thank-you not only for his work, but to his family, school community, and co-workers for all their support.
“The whole experience has been amazing,” he says. “There are so many talented and hardworking individuals I’m nominated with that just being categorized alongside them is an honor.”
From Childhood Dreams to Reality
“I knew that teaching was for me ever since I was a little kid,” reflects Rodriguez. “I’ve always been surrounded by people who work in education all my life.”
With his grandparents and father working in schools as classified employees, Rodriguez was primed for a career in the school system. The fact his parents were Spanish speakers further prepared him to become a bilingual paraprofessional. Today, that strong foundation fortifies his work at Vista Pointe Elementary, where he builds powerful relationships with Spanish-speaking students.
Knowledge is Power
Now at Rollins preparing for a classroom of his own through the Pathways to Teaching program, Rodriguez’s roots in education are thriving. In addition to the inspiring and insightful advice he’s received, he leaves every class with more knowledge than he had going into it.
“I’ve only had three professors so far, but all three have been tremendous resources for me,” he says.
Through the affordability and flexibility of the program, Rodriguez and his classmates will be able to complete their bachelor’s degrees in education, resulting in higher-paid, full-time, rewarding work.
“The flexibility of the Pathways program has truly allowed me to take my education to the next level,” he says.
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