Teacher Profile: Vinnie Rivera - McLeansboro, IL

Relationships are this band instructor’s leitmotif

September 7, 2022 |
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It’s always a pleasure to visit teachers in their place and watch them work. For this story, RSC observed one of the most unique classrooms at Hamilton County Junior/Senior High School - the football field - and interviewed band director Vinnie Rivera about his experience as a rural teacher.

Vinnie didn’t grow up in a rural place, but he is no stranger to small town life.

“My mom grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa and I went to that farm multiple times a year as a child, so I've never really been a stranger to rural, very, very small town areas. Some of the greatest memories of my life are in towns even smaller than McLeansboro. It's not foreign to me, and I do feel like I have that advantage.”

He had thought about being a teacher before, but it took some persuasion and guidance from the mentors in his life to finally pursue teaching as a career.

“When I went to college the first time, I initially went to be a teacher. By the time I graduated, I didn't have an education degree and I had convinced myself that I didn't want to be a teacher. My mentor, Hector Hernandez, encouraged me to apply for a tutoring job at the school that he worked at, so I did. Within one hour I felt so much regret. I got there and I got to working with students and I was like - ‘This is what you should do, this is what you should do.’”

Read the full interview, and other great rural teacher stories, on the I Am A Rural Teacher page!

The I Am A Rural Teacher campaign is a collaborative effort with the National Rural Education Association and made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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