Rodriguex elects to teach one more year

March 23, 2016 — by Emily Chen and Caitlin Ju

Arnaldo Rodriguex in his classroom on a recent day.

Spanish teacher Arnaldo Rodriguex, who has taught in the district for more than four decades years, said his plan for retirement did not feel right anymore.

   Around the holiday season this year, doubt crept into Spanish teacher Arnaldo Rodriguex’s mind, and he was not so sure about his decision to retire at the same time Class of 2016 graduates. Rodriguex, who has taught in the district (mostly at SHS) for 42 years, said his plan for retirement just did not feel right anymore and has decided to stay at the school for at least one more year.

“I started full speed, ‘Yes I’m going to retire, yes, I’ve told everybody, yes and yes and yes,’” he said. “And then I had a nightmare with those yeses. They were attacking me. Yes, yes, yes.”

One of the major reasons Rodriguex decided to stay was so that he could experience teaching with the new rolling block schedule. “I just want to see what the process is like and try to maintain a good quality education and training in Spanish for students who take the class,” said Rodriguex. He is concerned about students’ ability to learn the language with fewer times to practice per week.

After telling the district that he doesn’t plan to retire this year, Rodriguex was overjoyed by the response he’s received, which included emails from parents, former students and current students.

“Some of the kids in 4 [Honors] are happy that I’m going to stay because change is difficult. They want to continue and all of the sudden [they’re] like, ‘OK, what’s going to happen to me next year?’” Rodriguex said.

Junior Saya Sivaram, a Spanish 5 AP student, was among those who were excited to hear that he would return to teach for another year.  

“He always tries to make his class fun and enjoyable for us, no stress,” Sivaram said, “and if you go to him with a problem, he will acknowledge it and try to help you out.”

With Rodriguex’s decision to stay, the annual Spanish class trip to Cuernavaca, which he sees as an extremely positive experience for the students both in Mexico and here, will also remain. He has been organizing annual trips for the Spanish classes for as long as he has been in the district and is glad to be able to continue this tradition for the time being.

“You know, I like to continue [the Cuernavaca trip] because I think that’s important for our community and for the language you’re learning. It’s very important that you see that, you see how these people think,” Rodriguex said.

Senior Allen Li, a Spanish 5 AP student and Rodriguex’s TA, has been on the Cuernavaca trip three times and has recognized his teacher’s dedication to his job and care for his students.

“He treats you like his own family,” Li said. “He expects the same from you, but in the end there is a level of respect between him and his students that you don’t see a lot.”

Though many have told him of the advantages of retirement, such as having more time to read or to take care of his garden, Rodriguex, who is 66, still derives joy from being in the classroom.

“I already make time to do all of those things that I like, so I don’t want to be a full-time hiker [or] a full-time gardener,” Rodriguex said.

When he does retire, though, Rodriguex hopes to stay involved in education. One way would be by teaching Spanish at a private school, as teachers who retire in the public school system have to take at least one year off before returning to work in a public school. He would also seriously consider finding an organization that takes kids abroad and working as a tour leader for it, similar to his role in the trips to Cuernavaca.

In the end, he said missing the people he interacts with in  his teaching job would be the hardest part of retirement, whether they be the students visiting from Cuernavaca or SHS Spanish students.

“I just love working with the student body here. You’re all so respectful, so kind, and it just makes me feel very good. I appreciate it,” Rodriguex said. “And it’s not always roses, you know.  It’s not always happy times. But most of the times, it is, and that’s powerful to me.”

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