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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Early Childhood Health and Development within the Department of Population Health, at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. A veteran public school teacher, Rodriguez conducts radical qualitative research to support teacher identity awareness and development. Her research, teaching, and speaking is grounded in Feminista decolonizing methodologies and epistemologies. Dr. Rodriguez has been funded by the National Science Foundation, The Foundation for Child Development (FCD), the NoVo Foundation, Early Childhood Research Network through the Spencer Foundation, and FCD, among others. She is a sought-after speaker for national and international audiences and has published numerous articles in academic and practitioner venues. Her current funded projects employ critical feminista frameworks using Platicas and Testimonio interviewing to better understand and advocate for teacher mental health and wellness, particularly among Latina and Black women early childhood educators. These approaches guided her most recent publication (Rodriguez, 2024)  highlighting the need to redefine 'teacher quality'. She challenges the historical commodification of women and systems that devalue Latina and Black women educators. Rodriguez advocates for recognizing teachers' inherent value by creating physical, social and emotional affinity spaces. Her Radical Refuge program is a model for addressing these systemic traumas through facilitated identity development and healing.  Unlike a traditional professional development, these virtual and in-person spaces are focused on awareness, healing and liberation for Latina and Black women. Other publications include studies on approaches to support teacher identity development (Rodriguez, 2023),  pre-K teachers’ mental health and wellness during COVID-19 lockdown (Rodriguez et al., 2022) and teacher social-emotional development (SEL) through the Five Awarenesses of Teaching Framework (Rodriguez et al., 2020). Additional notable contributions to the field include pioneering the Self-in-Relation-to-Teaching interview method (Rodriguez, 2016) and writing The Teaching Brain (The New Press, 2014) which has continued to inspire teachers as learners across the globe.


"Vanessa Rodriguez has a truly original mind. Her experience, empathy, and insight have inspired and provoked me."

- Deborah Meier, author of In Schools We Trust

Funded Projects 4.28.24.PNG
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