My Why - Diana Rodriguez: Our Voices Matter

Image of Diana Rodriguez Teacher candidate with Academy for Rising Educators Seattle Public Schools

Diana Rodriguez, Teacher candidate with Academy for Rising Educators, Seattle Public Schools

Showing up for students so they know their voices matter

Diana Rodriguez will never forget the time when she asked for a teacher’s help with an after-school emergency. Speaking her native Spanish as she tried to get her attention, he snapped, “We live in America. You have to speak English.”

“I never wanted to ask for help anymore. I don’t want any students to ever feel like that — like their voices don’t matter.”

Diana has had only a few teachers of color since moving to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 13. She especially identified with a photography teacher in high school, who came from Colombia. Having a native Spanish speaker as a teacher made her feel like she could be a teacher someday, too.

One day, Diana’s history teacher told her about Academy for Rising Educators (ARE), a Seattle Public Schools program that helps high school seniors and recent graduates, school district staff, and community members earn their teaching credential. 

Diana got into the program and has spent the last two years at Seattle Central, where she’ll earn her Associate’s degree, then transfer to a Bachelor’s degree program where she’ll earn her teacher certification.

Meanwhile, Diana works as a teaching artist with Próxima Generación, a youth residency project of Northwest Folklife. She’s also served as a student leader at Youth in Focus and worked with other youth leaders to create The Hydrant, an arts organization that gives young people opportunities to collaborate, share ideas, and showcase their work globally and locally.

“I want students to feel encouraged to keep doing what they want. I really want them to know how important representation is, and how effectively we need to support each other.”

More about Academy for Rising Educators

Academy for Rising Educators (ARE) prepares and supports teacher candidates in Seattle Public Schools that are:

  • Rooted in our communities.
  • Dedicated to long-term teaching.
  • Committed to anti-racist teaching to support students furthest from educational justice.

Learn about pathway options for candidates with:

Seattle Promise scholarships are available to cover tuition for graduating high school seniors. Seattle Public Schools covers ARE tuition for all district staff in the program.

Visit for information on many other pathways to teaching.

Questions? Go to our Becoming an Educator tool to connect with an Educator Pathway Navigator who can respond to questions specific to your situation.