Four the past four years, Arturo Rodriquez has quietly been leading the staff at the Newcomer Program to assist young immigrants making the transition into the U.S. and mainstream them into Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).
Known for his caring nature and strong work ethic, the Puerto Rico native—who moved to the Midwest as a youngster like many of his students—is a regular in the hallways. He is known for always taking a few moments to have a calming conversation with a young student learning his or her way in a new culture.
But, members of his staff could not keep mum about his strong work ethic and caring nature of Rodriquez. Andy Gaunce, who teachers English in the ninth and 10th grades, reached out to WRTV-6 to nominate Rodriquez for the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good.
“Principal Rodriquez is a perfect example of someone who always goes above and beyond,” Gaunce said. “ He’s always available for students and staff. He’s here every weekend and is truly remarkable.”
Most of the school’s student body and staff gathered on the second floor of the second floor inside Northwest Middle School, which serves as the home for the program, to watch as Rafael Sanchez, multiple Emmy award-winning Investigative Reporter at RTV6, surprise Rodriquez with the award.
Sanchez explained to the gathering that Rodriquez was being honored with a medallion because of his dedication to the program, which is designed to educate students for a year, improving their English and preparing for them for their transition into traditional IPS schools.
The program has a student population of 150 students from elementary to high school, from 23 different countries, who speak 15 different languages. Flags from those countries hang from the ceiling.
Rodriquez told WRTV-6 it was the students that made the program worthwhile, describing the hallways as melting pots of different cultures.
“I believe the program has been successful,” he said. “I think a great deal of that success is due to the hard work of our teachers. They see the students come here. We embrace them. We welcome them. We want to be part of their success.”
Rodriquez noted that many of his former students have gone on to be valedictorians at other IPS schools.
“We live in a nation of second chances,” he said. “Our job is to help students, lift them up.”
Read an earlier profile on Rodriquez here.