We Mourn Another Fallen Teacher Hero - Too Young to Leave Us!
By Jim Vail
|Orlando Rodriguez Jr. - a teacher and soccer extraordinaire!|
When you work long enough in the Chicago Public Schools, you form a family that lasts a lifetime.
We - the Hammond School family - lost another warrior and hero to so many kids - Orlando Rodriguez, teacher and soccer coach who passed away this past weekend, a victim to colon cancer at the tender age of 41.
I worked with Orlando at Hammond School for about six years from 2006 - 2012 roughly. He was our bilingual fifth grade teacher and coached a soccer club when I first started.
He then became our middle school social studies teacher and boys and girls soccer coach.
He lived and breathed soccer - his love that was spread to all the lucky students who worked under him.
He worked at many schools in the Chicago Public Schools and he was an American Federation of Teachers AFT delegate when CORE and Karen Lewis first won the president of the Chicago Teachers Union election in 2010.
He, I and Garth Liebhaber, another phenomenal art teacher who helped bring me to Hammond School, formed a strong bond that continued to his totally unexpected death. He died at 41 from complications due to colon cancer on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
He had just lost his father a few months prior to his own death.
Cancer is killing so many. We had another wonderful, vibrant, energetic teacher named Celia Rivero, who lost her battle to cancer at only 30 years old. She taught with Orlando and us at Hammond School!
The Orlando E. Rodriguez Jr. Lane Tech Soccer Scholarship just set up in his honor will help his memory live on. Orlando and his brother played soccer at Lane Tech High School and they learned the sport from their father. Orlando played AYSO at Peterson Park and for the Wells Park Raiders in his youth. After graduating from UIC he fulfilled a dream by playing for the Fichte Rams club team in the Chicago Metropolitan League.
He recently taught and coached a winning soccer team at Northwest Middle School.
The Orlando E. Rodriguez Jr. Soccer Scholarship Fund will provide support and financial assistance to a deserving Lane Tech Soccer Player.
I highly recommend any and all teachers, lovers of soccer, students and those who read this to donate to this worthy scholarship. We lost a wonderful human being who breathed fire and passion to the children of Chicago.
He will be missed!
He will be missed!