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Jeremy Rodriguez

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Teacher/Director, 
Liberty High School 
Winfield, 38

At Liberty (Raleigh) High School, Jeremy Rodriguez has several roles.

In addition to teaching theater and music appreciation, Rodriguez also directs the Liberty High School World Percussion Ensemble, which he founded in 2007.

The Ensemble is a student-facilitated, interactive educational world music ensemble that incorporates musical instruments from all over the world and collaborates with international artists. As a result of international collaboration, Rodriguez said many "cool opportunities" have arisen, including a trip to China.  

"We teach, not just instruct," he said. "We're educational."

As a result of being selected the winner of The Great American Teach-Off, Rodriguez won a $10,000 grant for his classroom. The $10,000 helped build a computerized music laboratory to help expand students' musical opportunities.

And in Rodriguez's classroom, students are exposed to other artistic channels in addition to music. Students collaborate to produce music videos of their own original compositions; they develop personal digital portfolios; write scripts; they direct and participate in improvisational acting; and students perform full-length stage productions.

All the artistic endeavors from students are facilitated and enhanced with the help of high-definition recording studio and digital gear.

"We do a lot of interesting things," Rodriguez said.

Another project Rodriguez and his students participate in is "Experience Art," which can be seen on YouTube. 

The melodies at Liberty High School aren't just from the students. In addition to a student rock band is a faculty rock band. Community workshops in which students are the teachers provide another musical outlet offered to the high school students and the community at large.

Throughout his teaching career, Rodriguez implements the philosophy of one of his former band directors, whom he considers an inspiration.

"(He was a) one-of-a-kind human being," Rodriguez said. "He focused on who we were and developed us."

Rodriguez received his bachelor of arts from Glenville State College in music education Pre-K through adult.