Jeff Roberts, Fort Wayne Community Schools’ 2016 Teacher of the Year, had no idea the announcement was coming.
Standing in the cafeteria at Wayne High School on Monday, he figured the school was about to announce a Lilly Scholarship recipient. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around to see FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson.
Needless to say, he is delighted.
Roberts, 40, started his teaching career with FWCS 15 years ago as a social studies teacher at Memorial Park Middle School. Four years ago he went to New Tech Academy at Wayne High School.
Along with fellow New Tech Academy teacher Sheyann Pace, Roberts organized a blueprint day for New Tech students to present their ideas for downtown and riverfront development to city officials and Fort Wayne residents in March.
He has also partnered with the Fort Wayne Jewish Federation to teach students about the Holocaust.
Roberts comes from a family of educators. His mother, Barbara Roberts, is a Title I District Coach working with pre-K programs. His brother Todd Roberts is an economics and digital design teacher at New Tech Academy, and his brother Chris Roberts is a construction trades instructor at the FWCS Career Academy at Anthis.
He started college at Indiana University-Bloomington with the idea of majoring in sports management and marketing, he said. But in his sophomore year, his mother talked him into visiting her classroom at Adams Elementary.
“I saw how much she means to her students,” Roberts said.
He then decided to major in education. His brother, Todd, won Teacher of the Year several years ago, he added.
Roberts will now compete at the state level for Indiana Teacher of the Year. Candidates for the honor are nominated by FWCS building principals with finalists chosen by a committee of administrators.
The other finalists this year were Julie Cox, chemistry teacher at Wayne High School; Erica Klee, art teacher at Shawnee Middle School; Benjamin McIntosh, social studies teacher at Lane Middle School; and Sherry Sheppard, art teacher at North Side High School.