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Teacher Profile: Rodrick Williams

School is back in session, so we are featuring one of our very own teachers for our Blue Umbrella artists: Rodrick Williams.

Rodrick began his professional career as a Construction Equipment Mechanic in Texas. During that time, he enlisted in active duty for the United States Armed Forces, which enabled him to continue his education in maintenance supervision and leadership development.

In March of 2023, Rodrick accepted a position as The Blue Umbrella Teacher at the Arkadelphia Human Development Center. He works with special needs residents to help them create art that then gets sold in our store at 700 Main Street in downtown Little Rock. All proceeds go directly back to the artists to save or spend however they like, fostering a sense of independence and purpose.

Rodrick said he particularly enjoys working with special needs individuals.

“It makes me feel good to be able to share what I know with someone that is learning something new and to inspire them,” he said. “Each resident is different; John Robinson, for example, loves to talk. I like to find out what he is interested in and expand on that conversation while we work together. It helps take his mind off anything he may be dealing with personally by being in the moment and laughing and joking together.”

Rodrick said being a teacher has had a positive impact on his life.

“This job has made me more empathetic and understanding of people with special needs,” he said. “I realized that this could have been me or that I could end up in a similar situation someday. I would hope that someone would treat me with compassion and patience the way I treat our residents. I put a smile on their faces. When they say, ‘I had a great day, I’m happy,’ or, ‘I can’t wait for tomorrow’, it’s like winning an award to hear that and know I made a difference in somebody’s life.”

Rodrick strives each day to do all that he can to advance the quality of life his students have. He feels The Blue Umbrella is a wonderful service to the city of Little Rock, giving citizens the opportunity to support individuals with special needs while purchasing a quality item. He is proud that The Blue Umbrella gives residents at the state’s Human Development Centers the ability to showcase their many skills and talents.

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