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Kenny Roberts is Teacher of the Year

By Sherri Ellington Lamar County native, social studies teacher and high school basketball coach Kenny Roberts Jr. has been named the system Teacher of the Year. The honor comes in his 13th year of being an educator and third at Lamar high. ‘I was surprised to be named Teacher of the Year. I love what I do. I know the other teachers nominated with me are very good teachers and care a lot about their students,’ Roberts said. ‘I hope that’s what they saw in me.’ He looks forward to representing Lamar County, its families and its young people. ’I want to be good at it. I grew up here in Barnesville and went through elementary school in the public schools,’ said Roberts, the son of Teresa and Kenny Roberts Sr., the Barnesville city manager. ’My parents have had a huge influence on my life. They’re excellent role models and a crucial part of who I am and what I do,’ he said. ‘I wanted to come here, to bring my family home to family.’ Roberts has been married 14 years. He and his wife Christy have five children, Katie, 12, Maggie, 9, Tripp (Kenny III), 6, Lizzy, 2, and Bekah, 8 months. ’My family is a part of all I do,’ he said. ‘The kids were screaming in the background when I called my wife to tell them I’d won. They help in the classroom, attend basketball games and other events as an active part of my work. They take an interest and want to see me do it well.’ Roberts still enjoys playing basketball with friends, family and a church league. He also enjoys time with his father, working on projects on their rental properties, ‘having had the opportunity to learn it from him as a young man,’ he said. They built the children’s bedroom furniture in his father’s shop. ’Usually we do this in the winter when it’s cool,’ he said. ‘The kids also enjoy gardening with their grandparents every year in summer and fall. We look after each other and help.’ The Robertses are visiting local Baptist churches, seeking a home. They are attending Bethel Baptist in Milner, having moved back the first week of school as their house in Monticello was sold. He is glad the commute is over. ’Those were some long days and a hectic beginning of the school year,’ he said. ‘We’re glad to be in Barnesville. We spend a lot of time together and traditionally take an annual camping trip. I hunt and play sports with my son and I’m close to my older daughters. I want to strengthen their daddydaughter relationship that’s so crucial to their development, confidence and future.’ The Roberts also play guitar and sing together, visiting local nursing homes, festivals and churches. ’Practicing and learning new songs is a great way for the family to be close to each other and build each other up in a positive way. That’s very important to us,’ he said. A graduate of Monroe Academy, Roberts worked his first 10 years in private schools, seven as a teacher ranging from elementary to high school and three as an administrator. He is certified to teach social studies to grades 6-12. Now he teaches primarily geography, world history, sociology and government. ’I teach real life skills with the standards. The content and information is tied into what’s going on in the world,’ he said. ‘It’s fun to teach the process and responsibilities of being a good citizen, taking care of themselves and their families. Those are life lessons. Your real payment, encouragement and fuel to do the job is when a former student tells you how you’ve taught them something they can use outside of school.’ Having received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia College in Milledgeville, Roberts has a master’s degree in education leadership from Walden University and will finish up his specialist’s degree in the same field this semester at Valdosta State. ’I’ll graduate in December,’ he said. ‘Now that I’m settled here, I’d like to move up into administration in the system. The administration here has made me feel right at home. They’ve made it possible for me to work on my degree. It requires inschool projects and they let me do that.’ In addition to his other duties, ‘I coached all those years, just about everything but mostly basketball,’ said Roberts. He can add baseball, softball, track and tennis to that list. ’I played for a really good coach in high school, Jerry Kosater, who inspired me to be a teacher. He was a great example of how to be a professional educator.’

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