Jeff Roberts, a world studies teacher at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, was announced Monday as the Fort Wayne Community Schools Teacher of the Year.
FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson surprised Roberts with the news after he and other New Tech teachers were called down to the school cafeteria during students’ lunch period.
Roberts, who will be FWCS’ nominee for Indiana Teacher of the Year, was selected based on “his passion for providing a rigorous education in an environment that helps students understand the relevance of what they are learning,” an FWCS announcement said. “He develops relationships with each student as individuals, serving as a mentor to many.”
That connection with students was obvious as many cheered loudly in the cafeteria when it was announced Roberts had been named FWCS’ 2016 Teacher of the Year.
Others came up to hug him, and more hugged or congratulated him after he had stepped out into the school’s entrance lobby.
One of the first New Tech staff members to congratulate him was his brother, Todd, who also teaches at New Tech at Wayne and who won the same award about 10 years ago, Jeff Roberts said.
Their mother, Barbara Roberts, is a Title I district coach working with pre-kindergarten programs in FWCS, and another brother, Chris, teaches construction trades at FWCS’ Career Academy at Anthis.
Jeff Roberts, who joined New Tech at Wayne four years ago after teaching for 11 years at Memorial Park Middle School, also works hard to both bring the community into his classroom and to take his students out into the community, the FWCS announcement said. For example, he has asked students to develop downtown improvement projects and present them to city leaders. He also worked with the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne to teach students about the Holocaust through projects based around Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
While speaking with media after the announcement, Roberts said he was honored to receive the award as a representative of teachers throughout the FWCS district. He also praised students.
“A lot of the kids I am mentoring, they challenge me in a good way,” he said.