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The Great American Teach-Off 2013: We Have a 7-12 Grade Winner!

This post is brought to you by GOOD with support from University of Phoenix

Last month, over the course of five weeks, the GOOD community voted for their favorite innovative teachers in the 2013 Great American Teach-Off. From West Virginia to Minnesota to California, innovative teachers in grades 7 through 12 competed to win a $10,000 classroom grant.

Now, GOOD and University of Phoenix are happy to announce that after a very close vote count, GOOD community members chose Liberty High School theater and music teacher Everett Jeremy Rodriguez in Glen Daniel, West Virginia, to be the 7 through 12 winner of the Great American Teach-Off. As the first fine arts and West Virginia winner of the Great American Teach-Off, Rodriguez represents the important role music and theater can play in a child's future. With the $10,000 classroom grant, Rodriguez plans to build a computerized piano lab with professional software that will help students further develop both their music and tech skills so that they can be better prepared to pursue music in their careers.

As the Fine Arts Department Chairperson, Faculty Senate President at Liberty High School, and Liberty High School Teacher of the Year, Rodriguez has served as a crucial support system for his students' creative freedom. He told NBC News local station WVVA, "If you love your students, they'll be more open to things and they'll be more successful."

Rodriguez has already taken the extra steps to make his classroom more innovative by having students create and collaborate on music videos, compositions, a percussion ensemble, scripts, and full-length stage productions. High school senior Frank Treadway told The Register Herald, "He helped us form a student rock band. It's been, by far the best six years of my life. He's not like a teacher to me, but more like a best friend." And now, with Rodriguez's classroom grant, students will be able to record and publish their own music so that a wider audience can be exposed to their work.

Rodriguez credits his win to the community of Glen Daniel, his students, and the support of Liberty High School's administrators. Principal Rocky Cangemi told WVVA, "Rodriguez works so hard. He's one of the first teachers here every day and he's one of the last teachers to leave every day and it's the same thing we teach these students. Whoever puts in the most time and effort and works the hardest comes out ahead and this is a perfect example of just that."

Check back soon for a video of the official winner announcement at Liberty High School, when GOOD and University of Phoenix surprised Rodriguez with the news that he won.

In the meantime, learn more about Rodriguez and other inspiring educators in The Great American Teach-Off here.

Pictured left to right: Students Bobby Davis and Frank Treadway, teacher Everett Jeremy Rodriguez, students Joshua Smith, and Emily Smith. Photo courtesy of The Register Herald.

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