The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation and the James A. Gates Scholarship committee selected Nathon Rodrigues as the recipient of the 2020 James A. Gates Oak Park District 97 Teacher Scholarship. Rodrigues, who is a fine and applied arts teacher at Julian Middle School, was chosen from a field of outstanding applicants based, in part, on the following response he gave to a question about how his teaching (style and subtance) affects his students.
"There are three defining qualities of my teaching style that I think work together to help create a positive learning environment. First, I try to instill a value in failure. Instead of thinking of it as something to avoid, I ask students to embrace it and learn from it. Secondly, my classes are rigorous. I challenge my students to learn and grow using techniques that I’ve found to work throughout my years of teaching. Lastly I believe that making the content relevant to students to be challenging, but absolutely necessary ... In my time as an educator I’ve seen these approaches help many students to grow and understand more about the world around them. Hopefully, many more will grow under my guidance and the guidance of my colleagues."
The James A. Gates Scholarship is a one-time, $1,400 award directed toward offsetting an educational student loan. Eligible applicants must be current, full-time employees of District 97 who are in their first or second year of teaching in the district.