Luis Rodriguez-Cazares, Ed.D.
Engineering and Technology Academy, Los Angeles Unified School District
After graduating from high school, it took Luis three years until he returned to school. He worked full time while he attended junior college, and then transferred to Long Beach State. His first goal was to pursue medicine, but he began working as a teacher assistant at the same junior high he had attended as a student. During this time, he became ambivalent about his future career.
However, it was not until he finished his B.A. and started substitute teaching that he truly discovered the love of teaching and experienced "the call to serve my students."
"It happened so suddenly! Even though I had been a teacher assistant for some time and been teaching the students, that is not the same thing as when you are the one responsible for student learning. Wow, what an incredible experience!"
Before long, Luis was hired at a high school and, over the years, taught science, health, mathematics, art, yearbook, and bilingual biology. He completed a master's degree in educational administration and, in 2003, began work for the district as a science expert and then as a specialist. In 2006 he transitioned to administration and has been there ever since.
Luis says he has always been a curious individual. That curiosity was piqued one day in the student store at Cal State Long Beach.
"That morning, a female student walked into the store computer section where I had been admiring the technology still so foreign to me. The student approached and stood in front of a table on which there were a television-looking thing juxtaposed with a juxtaposed tethered box and a gray keyboard. She began by inserting a flat, square, plastic object into the unit. She then began typing on the keyboard amazingly rapidly! She finally stopped about two minutes later only to move over and collect several printed sheets of paper from a noisy printer. Suddenly, she vanished as quickly as she had arrived. I remember saying with bewilderment, 'I got to get me one of those!"
As for a satisfying accomplishment, Luis cites being equally proficient in both platforms—PC and Mac—and being able to build his own systems. "That allowed me to introduce and thrive using digital microscopy in the classroom and virtual labs, which supported me to re-certify as a nationally board-certified science teacher."
Luis sees great potential and value in technology for education.
"Technology is inherent in education. It can spark the imagination of everyone and I do not see any limiting of its potential to all types of ability users. It enhances intrinsic motivation, self-realization, and intensifies the spirit of learning and self-competition."
On the personal side, Luis has a loving wife of 29 years and three wonderful children—one recently graduated with a Masters in Medical Sciences from Western University and is now in medical school, one graduated from CSUN this year and is teaching First Grade, and the third and youngest is about to enter high school next year.
His family's idea of a vacation lately has been enjoying the tranquility of their home or their cabin in Lake Arrowhead where they spend many days watching and playing in the white snow. Before getting the cabin, they used to just get in the Suburban and drive up and down the state. Sometimes they ended up driving around locally and stopping in San Diego, Sea World or even Santa Barbara and spending the night or the weekend. Other times, they might drive as far north as San Francisco or south to Mexico. One time, they just kept going south for 1,700 miles into Mexico to show their children their roots!
When he's not on vacation or at work, Luis likes to play volleyball, create visual art, and—his newest hobby—ride a motorcycle!