This is the latest piece in NSNO’s series, “The Future is Bright.” We are profiling incredible educators from across our community. They are helping our students build brighter futures through the work they do each day, and their leadership creates a brighter future for our schools and our city.
Many of these educators are connected through programs NSNO leads for:
Some share a school building, a network, or a mentor. All of them are united in their purpose to give our students the best possible education, and in so doing, build a brighter future for our children and for us all.
Today, we profile Monica Roberts of L.B. Landry High School.
Monica Roberts of L.B. Landry High School and Her Belief in all Students
“I’ve always been able to see the potential in people,” says Monica Roberts.
Roberts teaches a credit recovery course at L.B. Landry High School. She works with students using an online program called Edgenuity to help them make up credits they’ve missed throughout their high school career.
Roberts’ students may come to her feeling “behind” or frustrated – they’re in her class because they’ve missed out on learning and need to catch up. Some students may have struggled to pass a course and are trying again with Roberts’ support.
Roberts is in her 28th year in education. She has worked at Francis T. Nicholls High School, Joseph S. Clark Senior High School, John McDonogh High School, McDonogh 28 Junior High School, Walter L. Cohen College Prep, Crocker Elementary, Laurel Middle School, Live Oak Middle, Gregory Middle School, Edna Karr High School and now L.B. Landry High School.
She began her education career while she was in college, working as a substitute teacher when her schedule allowed. The district needed teachers and she thought she’d try it out. She quickly loved it.
“I just thought teaching was a special thing to do,” she said. “I bonded with the kids. I ended up staying and making a career out of it. I got intrigued by helping shape and develop the young minds of our future, and finding out what was on their minds.”
She says that after many years in education, she loves running into students long after they’ve graduated.
“I always like a good come-up story,” she says – when a student who started off in her class was struggling or hard to connect with, but is thriving today.
It proves to her that if she invests the time and effort in her class, she can help students change their path.
“What you see is not what you’re going to get later on,” Roberts says.
She was struck by this recently when she ran into a former student at a Sprint Store. He was the manager.
“I looked at this young man and he looked at me, and he’s like ‘Ms. Roberts?’ And I was like ‘Oh my God, it’s Terrence.’ I was Terrance’s teacher at Gregory Middle School in 2008,” she explains.
Roberts taught Terrence when he was in middle school. He had a tough time, and was often sent out of other teachers’ classrooms for his behavior. When this happened, he’d head to Ms. Roberts’ class instead. She taught him in English Language Arts and they had a strong relationship.
“He would just come take his seat at my desk,” she explains. He’d take the time to reset while she continued her lesson. Their relationship was strong, but Terrence continued to struggle throughout middle school.
When she ran into him, so many years later, she says she was thrilled. She was struck by how well he managed the store and how effectively he reviewed the complex differences in cell phone plans with her. He was managing all the employees and making sure the store ran smoothly.
“He was so detailed and explained everything to me,” she says.
She felt incredibly proud, and she says this moment is not an anomaly.
“I knew he had something special about him, and I don’t just see it in one kid,” she says.
Roberts enjoys working with high school students because they’re at a turning point in their lives, with so much potential.
“I love the growth and development, especially in high school,” she says. “They’re so close to being adults, and you really get to help them. As far as college and career, you get to give them advice. You’re really at the point where you’re helping to guide their paths,” she explains.
Roberts often meets students who feel discouraged or frustrated.
“I tell them all the time – if you don’t like your circumstances, go to college, and you can start a whole new life. I give them a lot of stories about hope,” she says.
“I just let them know that they can press forward,” she says.
She’s committed to being there to help.