Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts is in his 30th 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 in 2002. Here is what Robin says about that experience.

"It is difficult to think back nearly ten years to the beginning of my association with the McLean County Diversity Project and gauge all the changes and progress that have evolved.

It seems like we began as a summer-type-of-trip oriented organization, with the chaperones and organizers shouldering most of the work and responsibilities. Now, we have evolved into a year around community service organization where the bulk of the workload is increasingly shifted to the student scholars.

It’s pretty clear to me that our student scholars have become very good at implementing effective ways to serve and lead our community.

The continued growth and development - transformation - of the Project has been a source of great pride to all of us involved in the McLean County Diversity Project. I'm really honored to be a small part of this process.

I think back with a smile on my face to the trips to Gettysburg and Vicksburg all those years ago. My goodness, we sure overcame a few obstacles along the way - long train rides, long bus rides, jam-packed itineraries, limited funding, etc. Believe it or not, back then, we had a difficult time finding students to join in - finding students to participate - and willing to buy into the challenge. We had an even tougher time getting students to meet the requirements after they had signed on - that being the completion of a 'grueling' two-page essay paper to qualify for the trips.

I just shake my head as I think back on how the chaperones spent a good deal of time reminding the student scholars about eating properly, behaving properly, getting enough sleep at night, and being active participants with all of the speakers and programs we attended - back then. Did I mention proper behavior?

A lot has changed.

Over the years the students have taken on ownership and responsibility. Our Scholars understand value and accountability. Expectations are high, yet attentive to potential. These young leaders grow! Student Scholars demonstrate leadership with their required projects many of which help out people in need throughout our communities.

We have our students building AMBUCS ramps for the handicapped; allowing people to leave and enter their homes for the first time in months. We harvested 130 trees from a state park outside of Manito for the Kickapoo Tribe to bring back to their Grand Village in LeRoy to build a Longhouse. In recent years, we have worked closely with the Easter Seals organization in assisting children with autism. Some of our Scholars have braved the Polar Plunge into the freezing waters of Miller Park to raise over $1,000 for Special Olympics.

I could go on and on and these are but a few examples. Let me just say: Our student scholars lead by example.

Over the past decade: we have studied the diversity of race, religion, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation and social class.

Our student scholars are actively breaking down the barriers that have held back progress in our society and, more importantly, in our local communities.

How proud I am!

From shy and timid 7th graders to bold and brilliant leaders entering college: what a thrill to watch our scholars grow by leaps and bounds. I am amazed and, again, swell with pride at the direction and horizons toward which we are headed.

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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