Mrs. Rodriguez – An Artiste and Artisan


Sierra Blaser, Editor

Art – the branch of creativity that forces us to look beyond human necessity, and allows us to express any emotion imaginable. It can make an influential social statement, communicate powerful sentiments, or simply be enjoyed for aesthetic purposes. Occupying the radiant art room, numbered 300, is Mrs. Rodriguez, the physical embodiment of what I think it means to be an artist.

Mrs. Rodriguez grew up with art influencing many aspects of her life. “My grandfather on my dad’s side was an artist, my grandmother on my mom’s side was an artist, and I have several uncles who were artists,” she said. “I have one uncle who lived in a small apartment and made money as a starving artist while I have another uncle who was super successful with his art in Santa Fe, so it’s just something that’s always been a part of my family.” Rodriguez attended the University of Arizona and double majored in Studio Art and Dance. She lived with her family in Texas for a while, which is where she began her teaching career. “I made a deal with the school and agreed to become a teacher for them if they allowed me to start an art program there.” She taught elementary, middle school, and high school level art before eventually moving back to Tucson and teaching at Sahuaro.

With a single glance at her schedule, you’d be shocked at how nonchalant the teacher is about everything she does in a day. “I live in Sahuarita, and have 6 kids (5 still live at home), so every day starts by getting everyone up and going. Then I drive an hour to school,” she stated. “When I get here, I usually have students waiting outside my room. Some of them just want to hang out, others work on projects, and some want to show me the art they’ve been working on at home.” She teaches non-stop from first to sixth period, often subbing for missing teachers and helping out wherever she can, before heading back home to pick up her kids from school and attend any of their “sporting events, band concerts, art shows, etc.” “My husband is an awesome partner and teammate,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without him.”

Twice a week, Rodriguez teaches strength and conditioning classes at a martial arts gym in Green Valley, another activity she deeply loves. “My dad is a twin; he’s the super athletic football coach and his brother is the artist, so that’s something that’s also always been a big part of my life.” The teacher/athletic trainer is certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and is passionate about the gig. “Especially with Covid and everything, studies have really shown that the more muscle mass you have, the healthier you are and the easier it is to fight anything, including Covid. I’m not all about being skinny, or anything like that, I just really like to help people, especially women, get stronger and more capable.”

When asked for her favorite type of art, Rodriguez’s eyes lit up as she answered “ceramics.” “I don’t know, there’s just something so therapeutic about the clay, the process, and how it mimics life a lot.” Rodriguez thinks of working with clay in a similar way to working with students. Sometimes the clay is dry, and you need to have extra patience and be gentle with it, while other times it’ll be too wet and need some time separated and by itself. She continued, “If we are taking time to discipline and nourish ourselves (mind, body, spirit), then when the fires of life get hot, we will become stronger. If not, those things can break us. When we break, it always affects those around us.”

Mrs. Rodriguez has some advice for our young and rising Picassos. “I have a lot of kids who are great artists, but many of them are tunnel vision focused on their thing, their style, and what they like to do, so it’s very hard to get them to go one direction or the other. I would say, make sure you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to do things that you are not good at and that you don’t necessarily like to do.” Practice leads to inspiration, and inspiration leads to art.

Rodriguez is a true inspiration to the students around her. As long as she occupies room 300, the room will surely continue to produce brilliant artists and even better human beings.