Faculty equip PAC students for success

November 3, 2017

Public Relations

For more than 30 years, Dr. Daniel Rodriguez, Palo Alto College professor of EDUC Learning Framework and Catch the Next (CTN) faculty member, has shown continuous passion toward helping students be academically successful, and he has gone above and beyond to ensure they are provided with the tools to succeed in college and beyond.

“Few things are more rewarding than observing firsthand the development of a student into a confident, independent critical thinker, and problem solver,” said Rodriguez. 

It’s Rodriguez’s understanding of the students’ needs and commitment to uplift and motivate students that made him a deserving recipient of the college-level 2017 Minnie Stevens Piper Award. The faculty-nominated award is presented to professors who demonstrate dedication to the teaching profession and who show outstanding academic, scientific, and scholarly achievement. 

“Dr. Rodriguez, above all else, is truly dedicated to his students and to the concept of education,” said Yolanda Reyna, assistant professor of learning frameworks and student development, in her nomination for Rodriguez. “He is concerned with the individual development of each student and helps them find their way through the complex labyrinth of college that often overwhelms under-prepared…students.” 

Rodriguez, who twice before received the NISOD award for teaching excellence, said he is humbled to have received this award and recognizes the great faculty at Palo Alto College for making him a better teacher. 

“I work with some really highly intellectual folks that really shape my mind and challenge the way that I think, and I take that into the classroom. I learn from my colleagues, and I think that I’m better at teaching because of all of the discussions I have with them,” said Rodriguez.

Over the last three years, Rodriguez has been one of the lead faculty members for the national award-winning Catch the Next program, in which he works closely with a cohort of students through a combination of accelerated instruction, intensive academic counseling, and leadership opportunities. 

“Rodriguez is intuitively outstanding, critically astute, and pedagogically prepared to mentor, direct, and promote the professional activities of counselors and faculty…as a CTN mentor and role model,” said Dr. Rafael Castillo, professor of English and humanities, in his nomination for Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez said he enjoys the student-centered environment of a classroom, and he embraces the belief that a classroom can be a rigorous yet safe setting for students to be active participants rather than passive learners.

“Seldom are the rewards in teaching immediate, however, there is a deep sense of satisfaction when I see a student several years removed from college who will say I made a difference in their lives because of something I said that inspired them when they were a student in my classroom years earlier,” said Rodriguez.