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Joseph Roberts, Liberty’s ‘Teacher of the Year,’ instills hope in students

MADISON – Joseph Roberts believes that students can learn if they’re in a safe, encouraging environment They can begin to believe in themselves enough to overcome outside influences that home often presents. Roberts is “Teacher of the Year” at Liberty Middle School.

“I came from a situation where school was sometimes a refuge from home. Out of my gratitude, I seek to be that for everyone who needs it . . . a refuge,” Roberts said.

After college, Roberts taught at his alma mater, Oakwood Academy, for two years. He then accepted a high-school position at Bermuda Institute in Bermuda.

He returned to the United States to marry and work as program director for a nonprofit. “Eventually, I returned to my first love and taught grades 9-12 at Oakwood. I came to Madison City Schools in 2015.”

For six years, Roberts has taught math in grades 6-8 at Liberty and served as assistant basketball coach. For three years, he has taught in The Learning Academy/Alternative School.

“One of the successes I’m really proud of is when my students have had a pattern of self-harm, and I (can) get them to trust me enough to talk about why . . . usually within a few days of meeting them. And to see those talks lead to enough self-care that they (can) stop harming themselves is extremely rewarding,” Roberts said.

“For other students, it’s cards of appreciation from them or their parents thanking me for helping them through a tough series of panic attacks that was crippling their family’s life,” Roberts said.

“Very few things are as gratifying as convincing a child there is still hope at living a happy life,” he said.

Liberty Principal Shannon Brown said, “Mr. Roberts goes above and beyond each day making a difference with everyone he comes in contact with. His infectious personality is second to none. We are so fortunate to have Mr. Roberts on our team.”

Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Oakwood University. “My wife Marquida Roberts is ‘director of child development and instructor for Roberts Academy (our family).’ I have two amazing daughters Janiya and Aneia, both homeschooled, and who I couldn’t be more proud of,” he said.

On Sundays, Joseph co-hosts a radio show on WEUP-103.1 FM. “A friend, Minister Fred, started a clean and Christian hip-hop radio program about five years ago. We’ve been airing help, hope and clean hip-hop ever since,” he said.

A major hobby, his Instagram account has 14,000-plus followers. His account encourages teachers. He also can continue to mentor former students and exercise his motivational speaking. “Speaking or training other teachers and inspiring students . . . I look forward to doing more,” Joseph said.

He also enjoys attempting to play any sport.

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