Sabrina Rodriguez, a junior at Palmer Trinity School, started out teaching English technique and literature to fifth- through eighth-grade students in the Breakthrough Miami program at Palmer. Last year she began conducting an art class for the students, who attend the program every other Saturday during the school year.
“I love art; no matter what I do, I want it to have something related to art,” Rodriguez says. “They were saying they wanted to do something creative and have more electives.”
Rodriguez says she knew the middle school children do not get art instruction in school, so she wanted to give them access to more mediums and more techniques. “They really like painting and we did a lot of things with paints.
They loved all the crafty things,” she says. “I think some of them have developed their art skills so much. Some of the boys, who weren’t interested, began to ask for it more.”
When she is not involved in Breakthrough Miami, Rodriguez volunteers with Friendship Circle. Rodriguez and a friend visit with an autistic girl. She says she loves participating in the program, particularly since her goal is to become an art therapist.
“It was really different for me because I’ve worked with kids in different environments,” she says. “It made me more passionate about the idea to become an art therapist. I do feel art is very important, especially for kids with disabilities.”
This summer Rodriguez plans to work at the Crystal Academy Therapy Center.
“They let me observe art therapy sessions,” she says.
Rodriguez also volunteers at Reach for the Arts, an art studio she attended when she was a child.
“I just wanted to spend more time creating art with children. The teacher would tell me how to do things,” she says. “It’s more of a learning experience than anything.”
When she enters college, Rodriguez plans to study psychology and then pursue a Master’s Degree in Art.
“I’d like to minor in art or art education,” she says.
At Palmer Trinity, Rodriguez is in the Second Chance Club (for animal adoption), and is co-president of the Got Ads Club. Club members design posters and flyers for other clubs. They are working to make the posters green friendly and reusable. She and a friend are also conducting a book drive for the Thomas Armour Youth Foundation.
“The foundation brings dance lessons to different elementary schools in high risk areas,” Rodriguez says. “These lessons offer the young girls and boys an opportunity to get into a good magnet program and provide a brighter future. The books will help them improve their reading and language skills.”
They are working on the book drive with the Alexander Montessori School. The girls created a competition between the homerooms at Alexander to encourage the young students to bring in as many books as possible.
Rodriguez’s work with children also includes volunteering at the Children’s Bereavement Center.
“My friend went there when she was younger after she lost her father; she was talking about the program and we decided to go,” she says. “It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s a great thing to go to if you have lost a loved one. We’re there to listen to them. We’re not supposed to say anything to bring anything out of them.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld