Want to keep your children excited about learning over the summer? Guilford County Schools Alum Rodney Dawson suggests planning a visit to the Greensboro History Museum. The curator of education lives by the motto made famous by former President Barack Obama,“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs.”

This Southwest Guilford graduate grew up on the east side of High Point. Dawson was raised by a single mother and found a love for education at a very young age. “I fell in love with education as early as third grade at Montlieu Academy when I met my favorite teacher to this day, Miss Christie,” says Dawson. “She helped me in the spelling bee, rooted for me at our school field day, and even showed up at my baseball game to cheer me on.” Thanks to this supportive teacher and others like her, he decided his future would revolve around the field of education. 

His road wasn’t easy. “After high school, I had a failed attempt at college by losing an athletic scholarship. I got a sense of the big head, and lost the scholarship,” said Dawson. “While I was always a fairly high performing student, I didn’t study sufficiently, and spent all my time focusing on socializing and athletics, which I quickly learned wouldn’t lead to success for me.” Dawson pivoted and enlisted in the military serving in the Persian Gulf War. 

After his time in the service, Dawson began working with exceptional children as a behavior support liaison. “Once I started teaching I realized that I had an interest in technology as well as helping students learn more about the latest technologies,” said Dawson. He went back to school and got his master’s in Educational/Instructional Technology from North Carolina A&T State University. 

Next stop for Dawson, Rockingham County Schools. “It was funny because as an Instructional Technologist. I thought I would be instructing teachers on how to use technology to teach, but I quickly found out that I was the one that other teachers would call on when the internet went down, or when projectors or smart boards stopped working.”  Dawson quickly learned he could better meet the needs of teachers by not only learning the tools that would strengthen technology-enriched learning, but also how to install projectors, maintain smartboards, and relaunch the internet and programs like Power School, NWEA, or IReady. “I assisted one school by obtaining a grant to purchase new iPads. At another, the school custodian taught me how to install one of the new projectors we ordered. After the initial lesson, I installed projectors for every classroom in need. It became fun for me to know that I was helping,” he said. “Often on a teacher workday, I grabbed my tools, my new fancy toy, and got to work. It made me proud to see a teacher smile when they had a clearer projection, brighter screen from a bulb replacement, or the use of an Active Table.” 

Dawson later became a media specialist at Gate City Charter Academy and obtained an Education Specialist degree, and not long after that, he walked through the doors of the Greensboro History Museum. While working full-time he also completed his doctorate. “I have always loved history but never thought that I would work at a history museum,” he said. “I always knew that I wanted to help share the stories of underrepresented, marginalized, and undervalued people, but I never imagined it would be in a career like this.”

Today, Dawson uses his life experiences, including his time in the military and his experience in education to teach museum visitors, including students, how their life stories can make a difference in our city and even the country’s history. “I used my love for technology to start a podcast called History Notes which is intended to be an educational resource for K-12 teachers, for educators at institutions of higher learning, and even for those parents out there homeschooling their children,” said Dawson. “As a former educator who knows how difficult it can be to come up with lesson plans, especially for all those young digital natives out there, I wanted to create something that teachers could easily use to reinforce a subject that they are trying to teach their students. We have also created a webinar series that both teachers and students can watch to help them learn more about a subject that may be taught within the school.”

We thank this Guilford County Schools alumnus for sharing his story with us and for showing us that all roads can lead to making a difference in the life of another. If you and your student are interested in visiting the Greensboro History Museum this summer visit greensborohistory.org. If you are a Guilford County graduate who would like to inspire others with your story be sure to contact Say Yes Guilford today at info@sayyesguilford.org.