A layer underneath


photo by Joanie Rodriguez

Joanie Rodriguez poses with her new mountain bike. Rodriguez started mountain biking during the summer with her friend. As a team, they would go off-trail mountain biking every weekend.

Everyone has seen it. The big husky drawing staring at you as you walk past. Although it is the first thing students notice when they enter the weightlifting room, they don’t know who painted it. But, what if the artist was someone all students have seen before? Someone like,  FTE Clerk, Joanie Rodriguez.

From drawing animals, painting on murals and even replicating an expensive art auction painting for her cousin, Rodriguez pursues her passion for art in her free time.

Rodriguez started when she was 5, with her aunt teaching her how to draw a Mickey Mouse. From there, she became a pro at drawing Disney characters which later transitioned into drawing more complex things like architectures.  

“While I was drawing Disney characters, I started to learn how to copy something I was looking at into a paper drawing and it progressed from there. I also started taking different art classes in middle school and in high school,” Rodriguez said.

Although Rodriguez prefers drawing architectural art, she also started challenging her skills by painting on walls. Her first mural painting was the husky in the weightlifting room, requested by the weightlifting coach, David Attaway. Due to a malfunction of the machine that helps her reach the top of the drawing, Rodriguez wasn’t able to finish the drawing. However, she does plan on finishing it during Thanksgiving break.

Although the drawing didn’t come out as expected, Rodriguez was still encouraged to continue drawing murals.

“After that drawing, I started to gain more experience and decided to take part in a project for my church that involved painting murals. It was a huge project but I was able to finish it,” Rodriguez said.

While Rodriguez still draws, she started new hobby during the summer; off-trail mountain biking. Throughout her childhood, she spent time camping with her family where she used to ride bikes through trails. However, after the tradition wore out, Rodriguez was still interested in riding through trails, but never pursued it. But, after one of her friends started to mountain bike, she was motivated to buy a mountain bike, and try it out with him.

“I’ve always wanted a mountain bike, and I’ve also wanted to go back to biking through the woods because I remember it being so fun,” Rodriguez said. “Then my friend got one and I saw that he went all by himself, so I decided to finally buy a mountain bike and go with him every weekend.”

Although mountain biking nor drawing are daily activities for Rodriguez, she does plan on finding time to fit her hobbies into her schedule.

Rodriguez became the FTE Clerk in 2015. Before this though, she worked for a staffing agency, Aerotek, in Miami. As the FTE Clerk, some of Rodriguez’s responsibilities include, the management of all reports from Florida’s Department of Education, ensure that all students including ESOL, Gifted, ESE and Special Education kids are accounted for by being coded correctly and placing them in their appropriate classes, programs or services.

“I love it here because everyone is a team so it makes it easy to come into work and do my job,” Rodriguez said. “The staff is so supportive, which is something hard to find,” Rodriguez said.