It started with Jake the athlete. Then, came Jake the student, Jake the coach, Jake the teacher.
Now he’s Jake the dad, Jake the husband, Jake the administrator.
These are the “seasons” or stages throughout the life of Jake Rodriguez. These are just broad titles, the main highlights. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a lot more.
Rodriguez is the assistant principal at Hobart High School. He lives in Crown Point - waiting on a house to be built before moving to Winfield – with his wife Jennifer and two kids.
Looking back, while attending Merrillville High School, he never would have guessed he would be back at a school in the administrative position. And looking at his life now, he can’t picture it any other way.
“I am one of those people where you tackle things as they come and you set yourself up for decisions to make or to accept opportunities,” he said.
He graduated Millikan University with a degree in Exercise Science and K-12 health education in 2004, and a year later he was hired to be the health and P.E teacher at Crown Point High School. For the next 10 years he taught and coached both the football and wrestling teams. During this time he attended American College of Education to earn his Masters degree in Educational Leadership.
In 2015, the position for the assistant principal at Hobart became available and seeing it as a way to advance himself and influence new and more people, he took it.
In this role, there are the typical duties of attending staff meetings and taking care of discipline issues, as well as, the do-as-they-come tasks.
Rodriguez interacts with the students each day, usually just by walking down the hallway and talking with each kid on a personal, best-friends note.
During other times, he is working the staff, talking with families, and helping manage programs.
“Everyday is different and that’s what I enjoy the most,” he said. “Things are changing quite a bit and I am good at responding. I like the constant change and I enjoy never knowing what is next and what the challenges will be.”
From Crown Point to Hobart, to whatever is next, Rodriguez claims his success and love for what he does was all thanks to the people he is surrounded by on a daily basis.
“There were some people who said, ‘Wow you’re not going to be a part of that anymore?’” he said, once making the decision to leave his coaching position. “With that I just rolled with the new opportunity to be a part of another great staff and great people and I think that’s why I have always done well. I was always surrounded by great people both at Crown Point and now at Hobart.”
Growing up in the Midwest, he has maintained that surrounding of great family members, friends, and a love for the outdoor environment with him today.
His love – or passion and obsession as friends would say – for hunting started when he was young. His family owns property in Newton County, thus every hunting season Rodriguez and his father would be out harvesting animals.
Since 2010, he’s been focusing on archery in the pursuit of pope and young whitetail deer, but for the avid archer and outdoorsman, it’s not all about having a full freezer.
“The country life is where my heart is at,” he said. “It (hunting) is my ultimate stress relief, my church so to speak. I think my time spent in the woods is my number one time to spend time with God.”
The property is his blessing and the classroom for his two kids, who accompany him during some of his trips. His goal for his kids, Ava, 5, and Luke, 2, is just to expose them to everything in and out of his comfort zone.
Over Christmas Break they helped their father with his weekend trapping. Next weekend it could be hiking and exploring and once the weather warms, it will be fishing and swimming.
Living in Northwest Indiana, he believes, is the best place to be able to do this with his kids, as well as, enjoy everything you need in life.
“I have answered this question a number of times to family members: ‘Why do you want to keep living in Northwest Indiana?’” he said, since both his brother and sister have moved away. “I think Northwest Indiana has everything you could possibly want, the variety of seasons with the weather, we have Lake Michigan easily accessible. We have the city life…”
Like with his children, he comes to work each morning to better the lives of the students, exposing them to new ways of learning, new programs, sports, and more.
Will that one day come when he is offered to step onto a different path? Perhaps. But like hunting, it is not always about aiming for something bigger. It is about sitting, being surrounded by your environment, and just taking in each moment, whether it is in a deer stand or at a desk.
“We’ll see where life takes me,” he said. “Right now enjoying where I am in life. I am open-minded to opportunities that come in the future, but right now I am really pleased where I’m at.”