New Leader of Teacher Education Program

Maritza Rodriguez has more than 30 years of education experience at the pre-school, elementary school, county, state and college levels

Maritza Rodriguez stands under trees

Maritza Rodriguez, the new assistant dean/director of UC Riverside’s teacher education program.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — The University of California, Riverside Graduate School of Education has named a new assistant dean/director of its teacher education program.

Maritza Rodriguez, who most recently was an administrator at the Riverside County Office of Education and has worked in education for more than 30 years, will oversee the UC Riverside programs that provide the credentials needed to teach elementary, middle and high school students.

“I feel my experiences add value to this program,” said Rodriguez, who has taught or administered at the pre-school, elementary school, county, state and college levels. “It’s also important for me to serve as a role model for others.”

Rodriguez was born in Mexico and moved with her family to Santa Ana when she was 9. Her mother had a fifth grade education and her father a third grade education.

“I grew up in what you would consider the barrio,” Rodriguez said. “I saw the numbers as to where Latinos from my neighborhood ended up and knew I didn’t want to be one of those statistics. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to pursue a college degree.”

After graduating high school, she went to Rancho Santiago Community College in Santa Ana, where she earned a degree in child development. She then spent nine years as a pre-kindergarten teacher at the community college.

But, she knew she wanted to go further, in large part to inspire her children. (She now has four, who range in age from 15 to 27.)

She went on to teach at elementary schools in the Santa Ana, Moreno Valley and Menifee school districts and earn her bachelor’s degree and multiple teaching credentials from Cal State Fullerton.

After earning her master’s degree in school administration from Azusa Pacific University, she worked as a site administrator in the Lake Elsinore school district.

That led to a job at Cal State San Marcos as an evaluator of student teachers. She also taught undergraduate- and graduate-level classes there.

While working at Cal State San Marcos she worked on her Ph.D. at UC Riverside. She earned the degree in 2007, with an emphasis on language, literacy and diversity in schooling. Her dissertation focused on the under-representation of minority students in science programs at colleges and universities.

Also in 2007, she started at the Riverside County Office of Education, where she worked with district leadership, school principals, and classroom teachers on the implementation of program plans to improve student achievement. Also, as a California Department of Education regional lead and a member of the state’s English Language Development Panel of Experts, she led county and district teams in the alignment of state and federal goals.

In 2012, she received the California School Board Association’s Golden Bell Award for a program she co-created that was called “Differentiated Instruction Through Universal Design.” It aligns teacher training at local schools with supporting data to improve student academic achievement. The program helps districts close the achievement gap by bringing together county, district, site, and classroom personnel to work toward common goals.

Now, at UC Riverside, she is looking forward to increasing the number of partnerships between the university, county office of education and school districts.

“We are very pleased to have Dr. Rodriguez leading our teacher education programs,” said Douglas Mitchell, interim dean of the Graduate School of Education. “Her strong background and her commitments to program excellence and equality of opportunity for students are recognized by everyone.”

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Maritza Rodriguez
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