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Trinity STAR student finds lifelong teacher in mother

Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat — Sarah and Linda Rodriguez pose at Trinity Episcopal Day School Tuesday. Sarah Rodriguez was selected as the school’s STAR student by earning the highest ACT score in the school. She selected her mother, Linda, as her STAR teacher.
Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat — Sarah and Linda Rodriguez pose at Trinity Episcopal Day School Tuesday. Sarah Rodriguez was selected as the school’s STAR student by earning the highest ACT score in the school. She selected her mother, Linda, as her STAR teacher.

NATCHEZ — Sarah Rodriguez was able to add one more title to her long list of academic achievements before graduating from Trinity Episcopal Day School.

The senior earned a 32 on the ACT when she took the college preparatory test for the fourth time last fall.

The high score helped Sarah when applying for various Ivy League schools to attend after graduating, but it also earned her the title of STAR student at Trinity.

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program honors one student per high school based on ACT score and academic achievement in the classroom. Sarah joins more than 280 students from around the state who have earned the title this year.

The Mississippi Economic Council sponsors the award.

“I had known people who had gotten it in the past, but I never really knew the ins and outs of it only that it was an honorable achievement in terms of academic performance and character,” Sarah said. “It was really cool being selected, and I was flattered to get that recognition.”

She is the daughter of Dr. Jack and Linda Rodriguez.

Sarah said several ACT prep workshops she attended at Trinity, as well as taking the test multiple times, allowed her to be prepared for success the last time she took the test.

“Because I had taken it so many times, I was already familiar with the test and knew what to look for,” Sarah said. “Some of the strategies I’ve learned from getting ready for the ACT have helped me in a lot of the other tests and things I’ve done.”

As STAR student, Sarah chose one teacher who had the greatest impact on her educational career as STAR teacher.

Sarah chose her mother, Linda, who teaches Latin, history, psychology and minority studies at Trinity.

Sarah said her mom has been instructing her inside the classroom setting since eighth grade, but has been teaching her since the day she was born.

“She’s taught me so much, and I’ve always admired how much time and effort she dedicates to the students and her classes,” Sarah said. “She always wants to be the best she can be and that inspires me.”

The selection marks the first time Linda has been chosen as teacher of the year, an honor she said she was surprised to receive — even if it was from her own daughter.

“It was quite a surprise because I was expecting Sarah to pick one of her core teachers from her senior year,” Linda said. “They have been so supportive this year and really helped her along the way, but of course it was an honor being selected.”

Linda said her daughter is a unique student who never settles for the bare minimum, which helps her as a teacher inside the classroom.

“When you get a student who challenges you as a teacher to be better and go the extra mile, it really encourages you as a teacher,” Linda said. “Teaching and learning are really a collaborative effort, so it’s always good to have that contribution from both sides.”

Sarah, who was named a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, plans to study biology or English next fall and said she is waiting to hear back from several universities before making a decision on where she will attend.