News Decoder

Linda Rodriguez of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Mississippi stands out for helping her students see beyond the confines of their U.S. school.

Linda Rodriguez,St Andrew's

Linda Rodriguez

“I am always looking for ways for my students to find global connections in local issues.”

So said Linda Rodriguez, whose students at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson, Mississippi, are tackling issues as varied as the value of college education, fast fashion, the future of Donald Trump, the impact of an increased minimum wage on small businesses, sex education in Mississippi, and body positivity and obesity.

The breadth of the students’ interests and research is testimony to Rodriguez’s ability to help teenagers see beyond the confines of their school and immediate vicinity — an approach that aligns with News Decoder’s mission to extend young people’s horizons.

“I am using News Decoder with my Journalism class,” Rodriguez said. “It is prompting them to think more broadly about the stories they submit. They are reaching beyond the walls of our school community to find professional sources for their stories, and they are writing with the knowledge that local events in Jackson, Mississippi, can have commonalities with other communities outside of our state.”

Linda Rodriguez wins Faculty in the Spotlight honor.

This is the first year that St. Andrew’s is working with News Decoder, and as head of Virtual Learning at the school, Rodriguez has managed to embed our Pitch, Report, Draft, Revise (PRDR) process into her classroom.

Recently, Rodriquez and I presented the PRDR process at the Global Education Benchmark Group’s (GEBG) summit on teaching global writers.

“The opportunities for professional collaboration have given me the chance to really think about how to best reach students who might be in my classroom, or at home, or both — at the same time,” Rodriguez said.

Indeed, News Decoder wants faculty as well as students at its partner schools to benefit from our association. Together, they can help the schools stand out.

We enjoy shining a spotlight on students who go the extra mile, and this month we are pleased to thank Rodriguez for her work and to honor her with our first Faculty in the Spotlight award.

Her students are looking beyond St. Andrew’s.

Rodriguez answered some of our questions.

ND: What are your responsibilities at St. Andrew’s?

Rodriguez: I am the Director of Virtual Learning. In this capacity, I act as liaison for our students taking virtual coursework, I manage virtual enrollments and I create regular notifications of virtual professional development opportunities for faculty. Additionally, I teach Journalism and a Senior English Course  — “Global Voices of Oppression: Literature for Social Justice.” I also teach a course with our virtual partner, Malone Schools Online Network — “A Nation Divided: The Literature of the Civil Rights Movement in the Modern United States.”

ND: What convinced you and St. Andrew’s to get involved with News Decoder?

Rodriguez: Last year, while attending the GEBG conference outside of Madrid, Spain, I participated in a News Decoder workshop and was impressed by both the opportunities it afforded for students to hone their writing skills and the global focus of the program. I also found the idea of partnering my students with Journalism professionals really compelling. Being at a school which has such a strong Global Studies focus, I am always looking for ways for my students to find global connections in local issues.

ND: How are you and your students using News Decoder at St. Andrew’s?

Rodriguez: I am using News Decoder with my Journalism class. It is prompting them to think more broadly about the stories they submit. They are reaching beyond the walls of our school community to find professional sources for their stories, and they are writing with the knowledge that local events in Jackson, Mississippi, can have commonalities with other communities outside of our state.

ND: What has been most useful for you and your students in working with News Decoder?

Rodriguez: The four-step process — Pitch, Report, Draft, Revise — has been incredibly useful for my students. Having constructive feedback from professionals in  the field of journalism has pushed my students to be more intentional about their sources. I also appreciate the focus on revision. I see students in my other classes regularly turn in “first drafts,” and reinforcing the importance of revision is such a necessary part of the writing process.

I am incredibly grateful for the support that News Decoder has given to me as a teacher. The  opportunities for professional collaboration have given me the chance to really think about how to best reach students who might be in my classroom, or at home, or both —  at the same time. We have also participated in multiple News Decoder webinars in my class and as a school, which have brought global perspectives to such important topics as the U.S. government’s transition of power and global healthcare during the pandemic. The ancillary resources that News Decoder offers to educators and partner schools are amazingly useful not only for Journalism classes, but for other disciplines as well.

(Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder.)

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Faculty in the SpotlightFaculty Spotlight: Linda Rodriguez of St. Andrew’s School