‘We felt valued, we felt heard': Rodney Robinson reflects on meeting with country’s top leaders

Rodney Robinson meets Trump, Pence

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond’s very own Rodney Robinson was honored on the nation’s biggest stage this week, meeting the country’s top leaders.

The 2019 National Teacher of the Year met with Vice President Mike Pence and had a special visit with President Donald Trump himself at the White House.

Robinson, along with the 57 other finalists, are taking part in the week-long event for the annual Teacher of the Year Award.

“It was just a pleasurable experience,” Robinson said.

Humbling was another word the King William County native used to describe walking through the halls of the White House; giving him time to reflect on the history embedded there.

"The White House was built by slaves and those are my ancestors,” he said. “It was an honor to be there in their presence and spirit."

Photos captured by the White House press photographers captured the pride spilling through Robinson’s smile as he took in the sights around the historic building, meeting some of the country’s top leaders in education, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“We had a 15 minute conversation about justice reform and how I can advocate for juvenile justice reform to fit in with the measures she’s already put in place for the adult correctional center,” Robinson said.

Robinson is a teacher at the Virgie Binford Education Center at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. He hopes his trip to the nation’s capital will set an example for his students when faced with opposition.

“Sometimes you have to reach across the aisle even to those who have different opinions of you,” Robinson said. “If you work together you can accomplish more than if you’re divided.”

Monday afternoon Robinson and the 57 other finalists for the teacher of the year met Vice President Mike Pence and had a special meeting with President Donald Trump in the most popular room of the White House.

“You always hear the term oval office, but then when you get in there and realize it’s actually in the shape of an oval… it’s just a silly moment we all had and a laugh with President Trump,” he said.

As for actually meeting the President of the United States?

“Just congratulated me and congratulated all the teachers and said it was an honor and hard job and he really admired us,” Robinson said.

Professional and pleasant is how Robinson would wrap it up saying it’s something he’ll take with him when advocating for his students and those across the country.

“We’re all excited, we felt valued, we felt heard, and that’s what it’s all about,” Robinson said. “People working on the same page doing what’s best for students.”

Robinson and the other finalists have several other events they plan to attend later this week before flying back to their respected states.

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