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Thursday, April 11, 2019

STE Faculty Member Earns SDUSD Teacher of the Year Honor

Lecturer Kris Rodenberg

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Dr. Kris Rodenberg vividly recalls bounding home from Kindergarten at age 5 and lining up her dolls in front of a blackboard in a laundry room.

The lesson for the day? Whatever she had learned in class.

"Instead of playing house with my dolls, I played school,” said Rodenberg, a lecturer in the San Diego State University School of Teacher Education. “I think I always wanted to be a teacher."

It would seem those dolls had a pretty good instructor.

Rodenberg, who also teaches high school at Mt. Everest Academy, has been named a runner-up for San Diego Unified School District Teacher of the Year — one of just six honorees in a district with more than 9,000 teachers. The honor also makes her eligible for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in the fall at the Cox "Salute to Teachers."

"I think my first reaction was a sense of great accomplishment,” Rodenberg said. “I've been a schoolteacher for 36 years. I felt this was a culmination of many different experiences."

Rodenberg has split her time between preparing educators and her own teaching career since joining the SDSU faculty in 2000. In the School of Teacher Education, she leads the Linked Learning cohort, which focuses on innovative practices and schools that combine rigorous academics with career technical education.

"I think I'm a better high school teacher because I know current theory and research. Then, at the same time, I take my classroom experiences and translate them for the students (at SDSU) coming through the credential program."—Dr. Kris Rodenberg
She spends her mornings teaching classes at Mt. Everest Academy, an independent study high school in San Diego’s Clairemont Mesa neighborhood. She is primarily an English teacher and is the instructor of other subjects as well. She holds multiple single subject credentials and has taught psychology, history, home economics, art and art history, and even physical education.

She achieved National Board Certification in Adolescent English Language Arts in 1999 and 2009 and earned her site’s Teacher of the Year honor in 2012 and 2019.

 By keeping one foot in teacher education and one foot in teaching, Rodenberg says she’s able to garner the best of both worlds.

“I think I'm a better high school teacher because I know current theory and research,” she said. “Then, at the same time, I take my classroom experiences and translate them for the students (at SDSU) coming through the credential program. So I can say, 'Here's the learning theory and this us what it looks like in the classroom.’"

So what makes for an effective teacher? Rodenberg — whose mother and grandmother were also teachers — says it takes a specific set of dispositions, such as a strong sense of empathy, an ethic of care and concern for others, solid organizational skills, and an innate ability to explain information to others effectively. And, perhaps most importantly, good teachers must constantly learn, question and revise their practices.

“When I started teaching 36 years ago, we didn't have smartboards in the classroom,” Rodenberg said. “We didn't have cell phones. To really be current and know how to use these tools, you need to know the thinking behind their use pedagogically."