(CNN)Rodney Robinson's mom grew up during segregation and wasn't able to graduate from high school due to poverty. Still, she taught him to value learning.
He teaches incarcerated kids to honor his mom who was denied education. Now, he's National Teacher of the Year.
He took it to heart, becoming a teacher in order to honor her.
Robinson, who teaches at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Virginia, was just named the National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
"He creates a positive school culture by empowering his students -- many of whom have experienced trauma -- to become civically minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities," the council said in a statement.
The honoree is selected from 50 state teachers of the year from the states, plus the Department of Defense Education Activity, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
Robinson, 40, grew up in King William County in Virginia. He remember