Robin Roberts

All content is © Copyright 2012 McLean County Diversity Project

McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   PO Box 58   Downs, IL  61736

McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   PO Box 58   Downs, IL  61736

Robin Roberts is in his 31st year of teaching at Tri-Valley Middle School, where he teaches 7th grade social studies and reading. He also coaches cross country and track. Robin supervise the history fair program and coordinates a school-wide Civil War Daze Event in early May. He also drives a bus part-time for the school district. He recently retired from IHSA officiating, serving as a basketball official for thirty years and football official for twenty years.  In the past two years, he has been selected for three teaching awards: Golden Apple Award Finalist (2008), Bloomington Wal-Mart Stores Teacher of the Year (2008), and Illinois State Historical Society Olive Foster Award for Teaching Excellence (2009). 

Robin teaches a world geography course to his 7th graders and focuses on unit instruction. Some of these units include: States and Capitals, America’s Wars, The Presidents, Religions of the World, Manners, The Barbarians Are Coming, Lewis & Clark Expedition, Illinois Constitution, and Illinois History. His students constructed about 50 Illinois History Fair Projects each February that they put on display during their local Tri-Valley History Fair Night in March. They also have a wonderful collaboration with the McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington. They allow Tri-Valley to display these projects to the general public for three weeks in April. These projects compete very well at the regional history fair at EIU Charleston and later at the state history fair in Springfield in May. Robin likes to use examples of past projects to motivate and challenge his students to strive for excellence and be creative.

Robin and his wife, Cindy, have three children: Courtney, Madison, and Chad.

Robin has been with the McLean County Diversity Project since its inception. Here is what he has to say about the experience.

I am a longtime seventh grade social studies teacher from Tri-Valley Middle School in Downs, Illinois. I have been helping out with the McLean County Diversity Project since its inception back in 2001. Jeff brought me in at the beginning to help with getting students, from our school, to participate in the project.

Over the years, we have traveled across the country on many adventures and have enjoyed many life-altering experiences along the way. I have been a very small part of helping to lead our student scholars through these experiences.

I have seen a lot of growth in how our scholars participate in the project’s trips, interactions and activities. The student scholars have gone away from asking the question, "What can the McLean County Diversity Project do for me?" - the question having evolved into, "What can I do for the McLean County Diversity Project, especially in regards to helping out our community?"

The Project has changed from being a summer trip oriented organization to one that is a community service oriented program.

The McLean County Diversity Project is now focusing on a June 10 th departure for a trip to Costa Rica. This will be the 13 th summer trip since 2002 and the first one to leave the confines of the United States. We will be stretching out our wings and encountering a vastly different culture and people. We will also trek into a whole set of different Eco-systems. We will see what it is like to journey inside a rainforest, live along a sea-side beach, or climb and subsist on a mountainside. We may see what it is like to have hot and humid temperatures year around. We could experience life without the use of electricity and running water. And, of course, there will be the language barrier to tackle.

"The Diversity of Politics" has been our theme based curriculum this project year and we have had many guest speakers explain to us their angle or take on it. Just what is "politics"? The dictionary describes it as coming from the Greek word, "politicos", which means having something to do or relating to a group of citizens. Many people would describe "politics" as the practice and theory of influencing other people on a civic or individual level. Or you might explain it as having a group or individual try to exercise some control over a community in some way.

It will be interesting to see how the system of politics works in Costa Rica compared to our own experiences at home.

I think we are going to have many eye-opening experiences and surprises on our trip to Costa Rica. We should be able to compare their surroundings to ours back at home. I am interested in comparing school systems and educational opportunities to ours in the United States. I am eager to sample their food, customs, and sleeping patterns. I want to learn all about the concept of "siesta". I am sure we will notice a lot of differences in roadways, vehicles, and transportation systems. I think we will see some variances in the amount and types of social services provided.

I believe we will gain insight on what makes a person "happy" and that you don’t have to possess a bunch of high-tech gadgets to achieve a certain level of "happiness".

On this upcoming trip to Costa Rica, I will not be doing as much leading of groups as I have in the past adventures. I am going to be helped along just as much as the scholars. In fact, I may need to step to the side and learn from the scholars as they interact with our hosts.

I am sure about one thing; we are going to experience many new things while having a lot of fun!

- Robin Roberts
Senior Veteran Team Captain

McLean County Diversity Project Charter Member

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