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IPS educator to participate in pilgrimage to home of U.S. Civil Rights movement

Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, principal of the Newcomer Program within Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will travel to Alabama April 21-24 to tour the heart of the Civil Rights movement.

Rodriguez will participate in the 2022 St. Luke’s United Methodist Church pilgrimage to Montgomery as the recipient of this year’s Indiana Remembrance Coalition Scholarship (IRC).

“The mission and vision of the IRC and St. Luke UMC are closely aligned with Indianapolis Public Schools’ strategic plan of strengthening and expanding racial equity work to eliminate opportunity gaps, aligning policies and talent decisions, and interrupting and addressing institutional bias,” Rodriguez said. “I look forward to sharing the experience when I return, as Newcomer Program continues to build momentum and strength by ending racism through education, lifting each other as we climb, and especially honoring our past.”

Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, is known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement for its 1950s bus boycotts over segregated seating. A year-long civil rights protest started in 1955, led by black seamstress Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white patron, as the law then required, and was famously jailed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the boycott leaders was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would emerge as the most prominent leader of the American civil rights movement.

During the tour, participants will visit the Freedom Rider’s Museum, Brown Chapel AME Church, walk across the Edmund Pettis Bridge and tour the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute.

Rodriguez was nominated for the scholarship by IRC members Dr. Patricia Payne, director of the IPS Racial Equity Office, and Clete Ladd, an associate professor with the University of Phoenix and Martin University.

“Dr. Rodriguez has a proven track record of caring deeply about the welfare and wellbeing of humanity – especially the children,” Dr. Payne said. “We knew that he would make very sure that not only would the students and staff at Newcomer benefit from his Pilgrimage to Montgomery, but the community will also benefit.  We are so blessed to have Dr. Rodriguez as a dedicated IPS employee.”

Ladd noted that Rodriguez was an outstanding choice because of his work leading the Newcomer Program, which was recently selected for a School of Excellence Award by the Urban League of Indianapolis.

The Newcomer Program is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of newly arrived immigrant and refugee students. Currently serving grades 6-9, the Newcomer Program provides students with access to grade-level content standards while developing their English language skills. 

“Dr. Rodriguez’s experiences and expertise, as well as his leadership, convinced me he is most worthy of the scholarship,” said Ladd, who noted Rodriguez has been honored multiple times for excellence in teaching. “His commitment to teaching and providing opportunities for learning the truth to students, families, staff, and community is clear.”