Meet Dr.Joan Rodman

December 01, 2009 | Harvesters
By Jesse Newman

Meet Dr.Joan Rodman


Dr. Joan Rodman (pronounced “Joe – Ann”) began her service with NICS long after most people would be enjoying retirement, afternoon naps, and visits from grandchildren. Dr. Rodman began her service with NICS when she was 78 years of age! Below you will find a bio of Dr. Rodman followed by her responses to our questions, and, finally, a few letters from people she has touched over the years.

Joan was born on August 9, 1928 in Fort Scott, Kansas. She attended Kansas City College and Bible School and received her B.S. in Elementary Education from Pittsburg University, her M.A. in Education from the University of Missouri, and her PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Alabama. Joan married Edwin Rodman on August 22, 1947, and Ed went to be with the Lord on August 23, 2000, only one day after their 53rd anniversary. Joan and Edwin had three children (one son and two daughters) who were all raised on the mission field in Bolivia.

From 1951 to 1985, Joan was a Missionary/Educator in Bolivia where she served as a teacher, principal, and school director. From 1985 to 2000, she was an educator in Texas where she served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and adjunct professor/student teacher supervisor. She then became an educator in Nevada where she served on the university level as an ESL Methods Teacher and Student Intern Supervisor from 2000 to 2004. Joan has been an educator with NICS from 2006 to 2009. She has served in La Paz, Bolivia twice; Accra, Ghana; and Nairobi, Kenya. Joan greatly enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. Her latest hobby is collecting recipes from different countries and she is eager to try them out on her family!

An Interview with Dr.Rodman

CORE: Tell us about your service with NICS:

“The location that stands out for me is La Paz, Bolivia, because this was my home for many years: the country and the people will always be a part of my life. I am very Latin American in many ways. However, all the schools I served are very different, beautiful and special and I loved being in each one. The greatest blessing to me has been learning about different cultures, working with teachers and staff from all parts of the world and learning to love people in spite of our differences. I learned to love different kinds of foods so I have no trouble with eating about anything that I am offered. Yes, I even ate three rather large termites in Nairobi!”

CORE: What has been your motivation to continue serving later in life?

“I am doing something that I truly love--working with students and teachers. Plus it is an honor to be able to work with, and for, Dr. Hale and all his staff. I think the real motivation though was to meet and become acquainted with more people. I still feel full of energy and able to work. Now, I am not using the word “retirement” because I can volunteer in the US and in this way I will be living closer to my children, grandchildren and great-grand children. I realize now that I must go home to be with my family. I thank God every day for his help and care!”

CORE: What is your advice for young teachers?

“My advice to new teachers who are taking an overseas teaching job is to arrive with a positive attitude and make up your mind (that) you will like this new experience. Read as much as possible about the country, and talk with people who have already been there. If you find a teacher who is teaching the same grade, get this teacher’s e-mail address and ask all kinds of questions. When you feel afraid --about the trip, making new friends, teaching, etc.--, just be brave and don’t act like you are afraid. Push yourself to make all the adjustments without complaining. God will give you strength and will power you never experienced before!”

Some thoughts from a few of Dr. Rodman’s friends:

West Nairobi School had the great honor of having Dr. Joan Rodman spend 2 years with us helping the school get accredited, being its interim director and director. The most unique thing about her, apart from her 53 years of education experience, is her love for people. She loves all people no matter their economic or social status. She respects everyone equally. From the street vendors to the students, teachers or administrators that she works with, she abides by Christ’s greatest commandment to love everyone.

My personal relationship with her was one of being my mentor. Since I am 20 years younger, and lacking the experience in administration, she showed me what it was like to be the leader of a school. She is so gracious, so kind, so empathetic, and yet decisive when a decision had to be made. She was not only a great mentor but also a great friend. She touched everyone’s heart and I feel truly blessed to have known her and been able to spend time together as a companion and fellow worker at WNS. Encouragement, generosity, kindness, sage advice, love that she is so willing to give, and her friendship—that is what I miss the most.

- Les Ommen, Director - West Nairobi School; Nairobi, Kenya

When I was asked to write something about Joan, I thought that there is no way that I could put something down on paper that does justice to who she is and what she means to the people who get to know her. Tammie (my wife) and I got to meet Joan last February at ALC where she was interviewing for positions in Kenya. I remember as we were riding home the next day, we both commented on how much we enjoyed getting to meet Joan and thought it would be great to work with her. However, a couple of months later God called our family to go to La Paz, Bolivia and we did not think we would see Joan again. It is amazing how God works though. Before we were to leave for Bolivia, we found out that Joan would be joining us in La Paz for the first semester. We were very excited and amazed at how God works.

The hard part of all of this is to try to describe how much Joan means to me and everyone at Highlands. Joan is someone who loves the Lord and genuinely cares about the people she comes in contact with. She has such a sweet spirit and it is hard to fathom how someone can make such an impression on you in a short period of time. We do not always know why God chooses to do all the things He does. However, I am convinced that the reason Joan came to La Paz had very little to do with what the school needed from an academic standpoint or all the ways she has helped us during this semester. I really believe that God in His infinite wisdom and love chose to bless us with the opportunity to get to know a person in Joan who you will remember for the rest of your life. I am so thankful for Joan’s life and witness and I cannot imagine the countless people she has impacted for our Savior during the course of her life. We will miss Joan when she leaves, but we know that wherever she goes she will brighten people’s days and love them with the love of Christ.

Scott Frost, Interim Director - Highlands International School; La Paz, Bolivia

A SHINING GEM - There are gems in life that God has created for us to look at and marvel. Usually when we think of gems we think of a beautiful piece of jewelry; however, when I think of gems I think of people that have come into my life and touched it in a manner that shines above the rest. Dr. Joan Rodman is one of those people. A few years ago when we were in need of assistance with our ESL program in La Paz, the school’s founding director Ron Wende suggested we seek the assistance of his former high school principal from the international school in La Paz. Into the picture walked Dr. Joan Rodman: a gem of a person, and an extremely experienced and knowledgeable educator. After a period of brief service in La Paz (which Joan probably thought was a nice distraction from semi-retirement in Nevada), it became apparent that God had continued plans for her. When NICS was in need of a seasoned administrator to serve as the interim director at our new school in Accra, Ghana, Joan immediately came to mind. When I talked with her about the possibilities she was excited and together we made plans for her next assignment.

One of the requirements for directors new to NICS is a two-day orientation at the home office. When I went to the airport to pick her up, she came through the gate with her handbag and a box full of homemade cookies (which she had baked early that morning…following her early morning swim…all before catching her flight). Most of us do well to get our bags packed before we rush out the door to the airport when we travel!

As Joan completed her time in Accra the voice of God (and me as well) called out yet again. I shared about the possibility of going to Nairobi, Kenya to assist the school with its initial accreditation self-study. Once more, she was up to the challenge. While in Nairobi she was asked to consider filling the unexpected position of interim director (in addition to her duties leading the self study). Always the trooper, she accepted the challenge. She hosted the visiting teams from ACSI and MSA and the school was granted its first ever accreditation for K-12.

As Joan was thinking about Nevada, those early morning laps in the pool and spending time with her family, God had yet another challenge to consider. La Paz, Bolivia was echoing a call to return for an encore. The school was in need of someone to come alongside the newly placed director. Joan dutifully packed her bags and headed back across the Atlantic.

As she wraps-up her time in La Paz this winter, she will leave behind a shining example of energy, a spirit calm in the midst of troubled times, of listening to God and following His leading at a time in life when most others have allowed their biggest dreams and challenges to settle into the history books. Thanks Joan for sharing your life with us; it has truly been a blessing and you leave behind a life long legacy that will be a shining gem of an example for all of us.
By-the-way, I have another huge project on the horizon, give me a call and let’s talk. ?

Steve Stark, Vice-President Educational Affairs, NICS Home Office

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Author’s Note: As of the writing of this article, Joan is 81 years old and is finishing her last semester in La Paz, Bolivia. Join us in praying for God’s richest blessings on her as she looks forward to spending time with her family (and trying out her new recipes on them, too!)

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