Cogswell School’s 6th Graders Get Inspired by a Visit from Actor Valente Rodriguez
Valente Rodriguez, an actor best known for his role as Ernie on The George Lopez Show, recently visited Cogswell Elementary School in the Mountain View School District to encourage the sixth grade students to go after their dreams. Born in the small town of Edcouch, Texas he is the last of eight children a family of migrant workers.
“I’m from a place familiar to where you’re from,” said Rodriguez, addressing the students. “Don’t let the world tell you you can’t because you are Latino, or short, or a woman, or tall. There is no one else like you, you are unique. The life you have in front of you can be amazing if you prepare yourself well,” he said. “Education is the key and by getting an education you will have more choices and options available to you.”
After playing a fun game of Simon Says, of which he’s extremely good at, Rodriguez told the students that he only spoke Spanish a child and was in special education classes because of the language barrier.
“By the time I was in 5th grade it occurred to me that I didn’t want the life my parents had. There was nothing wrong with working the fields, but it was way too hard and I wanted more so I focused on my studies and was the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college.”
Among his many acting roles, Rodriguez played the school principal in the film "McFarland, USA" and shared that growing up in southern Texas and being a migrant farm worker, his experience closely mirrored that of the children of McFarland.
“You will face a lot of challenges in life and some people will say no or you can’t - but you can. You just have to believe in yourself and make good choices and continue your education. The number one thing it takes be successful and move forward is courage,” said Rodriguez.
In addition to a couple of rounds of Simon Says, Rodriguez led the students in a few acting exercises to help build their attention span, focus, listening skills and communication.
“These acting exercises apply to everyday life. It’s important to be receptive and open and to listen to people. We all need to communicate to get things done and cooperate with others because we are almost never alone and these types of exercises will help you with those skills.”
The visit concluded with everyone enjoying delicious paletas provided by teacher, Carrie Johnson and the students lining up to take photos with the inspirational and funny actor.