The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara honored Graciella “Chely: Rodriguez in November with a Teacher Recognition Award.

Rodriguez was nominated for her unique approach to education, involving each student individually and giving them each special attention.

She has been teaching for the past 11 years, starting at age 15, when she began as an after-school program teacher at Girls Inc. She graduated from UCSB with a double major in Spanish and sociology, and then earned her Master in Education Credential at Azusa Pacific.

Rodriguez grew up in Carpinteria and is now married and living in her hometown.

Today, Rodriguez brings her unique style of teaching to the Adelante Charter School on the Franklin School campus. An avid lover of animals, her classroom has a resident white rabbit, and the students learn about nature up close and personal through the class pet.

Rodriguez’s motto is, “I am the architect of my own destiny,” and she works to instill that message in all of her students. She makes a point to visit each one of her student’s homes to establish a strong classroom community and build communication with all of the families. Rodriguez works to teach her students to become critical thickeners, growing to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Rodriguez’s high standards for herself and her students along with her personal touch has caught the attention of many people in the community, and Rotary is proud to honor her with the Teacher Recognition Award and contribute $1,000 to her classroom programs.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara meets at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays.

— Chris Clemens represents the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.