We are pleased to present Veronica Diaz-Rodriguez as one of five finalists for the 2019-2020 Tulsa Public Schools Teacher of the Year award.
Veronica was born and raised in Puerto Rico, attending Colegio María Auxiliadora de Carolina from 1st to 12th grade. She continued her education at the University of Puerto Rico, earning her bachelor's degree in Chemistry. She proceeded to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota.
She started working for Tulsa Public Schools in the fall of 2016 as a teacher through Teach for America and has taught in the same school since then. She has taught all the classes for 5th grade. Right now, she teaches 5th grade Science, Social Studies, and Spanish.
Last year she was part of the leadership team at Dual Language Academy. She currently leads the robotics club for 4th and 5th graders, and is a member of the Superintendent Teacher's Cabinet.
Veronica’s teaching method centers around student and family engagement.
"I love to bring engaging and interactive lessons to my students for them to feel intrinsically motivated to learn in the class," said Veronica. "I like spending time making connections with the families and students, setting academic goals, and helping them map their progress. Seeing academic and personal growth in the classroom is one of my favorite things about teaching."
After observing the lack of students and faculty representing minority groups in the sciences and technology programs, she became curious about why. Through her research, she started to learn about the education gap here in the United States and became more aware of the social injustices that happen every day in our nation. This discovery fueled Veronica to want to teach and inspiration for her students to engage in STEM fields.
"I hope that they are always curious and that their educational experience for the following grades is always engaging and impactful in their lives. I hope they always have highly qualified teachers that are also culturally relevant pedagogy practitioners and that truly care about each one of them as whole persons,” said Veronica. "Goals that I have for my students are that they ALL reach 80% or higher in mastery of the content in all of their classes. I want them to be reading and writing at grade level by the end of the year and that they develop independent study habits in preparation for middle school."
Her favorite teaching moments happen when she brings experiences to students in the form of science experiments. Students then need to process the information and new knowledge and create art or writing pieces explaining the concepts. When this happens, she feels very proud of her work.
Outside of work, Veronica loves staying active.
"I love to do weight training, yoga and going for outdoor walks/hikes. I also love spending quality time at home reading or cooking. Traveling is also one of my passions," said Veronica.
Congratulations to Veronica on being nominated as a Teacher of the Year finalist. Thank you for exhibiting the district's core values of equity, character, excellence, team, and joy in your work. The winner will be announced later this year.