The Radiant Mrs. Roberts

The Radiant Mrs. Roberts

Rikkie Fortress, Writer

“Try to stay positive,” says Mrs. Leah Roberts, a teacher in her third year here at Cartersville High School. She is a great person to be around, and you are just the luckiest to have her teach you. Mrs. Roberts has an amazing personality and could talk your ear off in the best way possible.


What made you have an interest in teaching?

Honestly, I’m a career change kind of person, so I went to college for business at a liberal arts school. You get the business, but you got a lot of extra classes and stuff [as well] because of the liberal arts part of it. So, I started working in marketing…[and] event planning and all of that. Loved it. Well, one of my jobs as an event planner was doing youth camps and conferences for high school aged kids. [I] did that for a while, loved it. Then went back into more of a typical business type thing, it wasn’t my “gig’’. It just didn’t work, and I always enjoyed what I did with the youth camps and things like that. Then at the same time there was this teacher shortage in Georgia, and my husband was like “Why don’t you do that?” and I’m like “Yeah, why don’t I?”. That’s how I sort of got into it and honestly the reason I didn’t consider education beforehand, and this is bad, but a girl I went to high school with was going into education and I thought she was the biggest ‘dingbat’ ever and I didn’t want to be like her. So that’s why I didn’t want to do it out of high school, but honestly, it’s probably the best thing for my personality, because I love the planning aspect of it. I’m very organized… I can be very detailed with all of my stuff but at the same time I feel like when I’m teaching, I can show my personality and be silly and fun. It really is the perfect blend for me.

If not teaching at all, what would your career be?

I would probably do something in the medical field. I sort of like that kind of stuff, that really interests me. Or [a] total dream job, which probably is not very practical, an archeologist or something like it. You know, looking for relics and I sort of do that on the side, metal detect, and we go fossil hunting, and so different things like that pique my interest, I enjoy that too. That’d probably be my backup, backup.

I know you teach multiple grades, what are they?

I teach freshmen and seniors. So, this year I have Honors freshmen and AP Language which are my seniors. I feel like I’m “book-ins” in the scheme of their education, their high school education. I feel [with] my freshmen I try to teach them how to start ramping it up from middle school. It’s different, you have more freedom but that doesn’t mean you have less responsibility. I really try to ingrain that work ethic in them now and hopefully by the time they’re seniors I know that they’ve earned a right to sort of have a little more freedom than what I let my freshmen have. It’s really striking that balance to [attempt] to meet them where they are, because when my seniors go to college, nobody’s going to be harping on them to turn stuff in. It’s on you now. I really try to, again, build a bridge to get them ready for college.

Is there a grade that has been the most enjoyable to teach? Why?

I love freshmen, I do. Now [though] I really like my seniors. They’re so very different. I probably feel the most confident teaching freshmen because that’s what I’ve done for twenty years now. My seniors stretch me, but I still think that’s good, I enjoy what I teach and I’m wanting to try to help them to think outside the normal ‘box’.

What about one that wasn’t as great?

Sometimes freshmen can be bad. So, it all depends on the year.

I know you taught eighth grade at CMS, and now you teach here at CHS, is there a difference about working at the high school that is more appealing than the middle?

For me, definitely. I did the one year at the middle school, and it wasn’t the kids. It really is just how middle school is. You have to be very [attenuative], tell them when they can go to their locker or what to put in their bookbag. I don’t care. I would rather be the kind of person that is a support system for things that I feel really matter. But in middle school you have to be able to do those things, it’s important to, “Okay you can only go to your locker so many times.” That’s why it’s important for the teacher to help them to know what to bring to class or what they can put in their bookbag. Those things are important at the middle school level, it wasn’t what appealed to me. I taught high school before that and so again talking about comfort level, that’s what I knew. While I learned a lot teaching eighth grade, [I] have mad respect for those teachers who do it. I think it’s a calling for them, it just wasn’t for me. I feel like I do better in a high school setting.

Given the chance, would you teach any other subject, or is ELA where you feel most comfortable?

I probably would like biology. I think I could do biology. Obviously, I’d have to study up on it, but I mean that would be something I would enjoy. I could probably do some kind of business, just given that was my background in college. So, I could probably do a few other things, but I think I like English the best. The downside to English is the all the grading, just the essays, a lot of writing, but you get faster, and you learn how to read faster, and you sort of pick-up things quicker. It’s sort of hard to describe, but when you’re constantly doing it, you just sort of get a little faster.

Is there any advice you have for someone who wants to pursue a teaching career?

First of all, I would give them cheers and angulation and say, “Yes! Do it!” because it’s a very worthy vocation and something that you impact and influence a lot of lives [with]. You can touch people [in ways] that most people can’t touch. You can make a difference. So for that reason, I would say “Stick to it, there’s going to be tough times, there’s going to be hard times.” but when you see a kid that has a light bulb moment or you know they want to share something, they got their driver’s license, or something really cool happened, you see the joy and there’s nothing that can replace that kind of enthusiasm and excitement. Just that you can, like I said touch somebody’s life, that means a lot to me. Some people, they would rather deal with money and that’s great, but I would rather deal with lives and hopefully encourage them to do their best and be their best.

What about advice people can use in their day-to-day lives?

I am a big person on using your time wisely. Don’t screw off, get your stuff done and then once you’re finished do whatever. My son is not like me okay, he’s 21, he’s getting ready to graduate from college, but he thinks he works better under pressure. Therefore, he tends to procrastinate. For me, it stresses me out and then he gets grumpy too. So, I would just suggest trying not to procrastinate, use your time wisely, but also be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Say my son is right and what’s really best for him is that he sort of waits and then he does work better under pressure. I do think some people do work better under pressure, I don’t, but he does. If that’s the case, just make sure you’re a good judge of your productivity and your outcome. Let’s say my son takes a test, he can assess, “You know what, I did well on this part, eh I didn’t do so good on this part. But I think I did okay on this one.” he assesses that, so when he does get the grade or when he has to prepare for the next thing, he’s very good about making these slight corrections that he needs to make. [Overall] I think being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses and using your time wisely is probably what I would suggest. And just always try to stay positive, that’s key. Nobody likes negative people, and it just sucks the life out of you so always be positive. Find something good.


Mrs. Roberts keeps shining as always. She is truly motivational and so supportive of her students. And in general, so kind to those who are around her. I was just so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with her.