Devoted kindergarten teacher Emily Roberts brings zeal to all aspects of her life.
Emily Roberts is proof that passion, coupled with good old-fashioned hard work, can blaze the way for many new opportunities. Although some might fear taking on too much, Roberts takes the opposite approach. Go big, or go home.
This passion has fueled her to reach some of her biggest dreams, including becoming a teacher in the Jefferson City Public School District.
“I’ve never wanted to be anything else but a teacher, and my end goal was always to teach in Jefferson City.” — Emily Roberts
“I’ve never wanted to be anything else but a teacher, and my end goal was always to teach in Jefferson City,” Roberts says. “I love my hometown and this school district. I want my child to have a quality education just like I had.”
Roberts, a kindergarten teacher at Belair Elementary, is also a major force behind the school’s implementation of Positive Behavior Support, a program aimed at reducing behavior problems through school wide positive reinforcement. When no funds were available for the necessary program rewards, Roberts rolled up her sleeves and planned a 5K fundraiser, which is now an annual event, netting $2,000 each year. Although she is proud of the effort, she is quick to credit her team for making it happen.
“I could not do what I do every day without my co-workers; they are my support system,” she says. “I also have an amazing boss who trusts that he has the best teachers and gives us what we need to succeed in order to create the best classrooms and school.”
Roberts acknowledges that her drive and passion for new opportunities are fueled by a strong support system. She credits her parents, Don and Katie Whitener; her husband, Mark; and her closest friends with lending a hand in all that she does including owning and operating an event-planning business.
“I started planning my own wedding when I was 8 years old and during college offered to help plan parties or weddings for friends,” Roberts says. “My brain is in party-planning mode at all times, so I created another outlet to do what I love.”
Roberts started the business with her dad in 2008, aptly named Dad and Daughter Events, and has been helping clients with weddings, children’s birthday parties, anniversary events and surprise parties ever since. Recently, she added fundraising to her resume as the event coordinator for the annual HALO Foundation Art Auction. Roberts helped coordinate its art auction this past March.
“My passion for teaching children is the same passion HALO has for helping orphans, and it will bring you to tears to see how they embrace helping these kids,” Roberts says. “You don’t realize how generous and giving our community is until you attend a fundraiser like this.”
In addition to full-time teaching and event planning, not to mention a husband and 4-year-old daughter, Roberts pursues her passion for music. She is the children’s music director at First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City and also sings with the church’s contemporary praise band. It’s an honor she doesn’t take lightly.
“It is more than just an outlet to sing,” she says. “You’re saying what the congregation is seeking and, at the same time, growing closer to God through this worship experience.”
Church is a family place for Roberts, one of her childhood favorites, and now a place where she raises her own daughter. Three generations of Roberts, including her mother and daughter, share their musical talents by singing in choir within the same walls. In addition to singing with family, Roberts also cherishes weekly dinners with her parents and her 95-year-old grandmother, Alline.
“The reason I do all of the things that I do is because of the lessons I’ve learned from great people around me… I am lucky because I know there are people that don’t have that great support system, which is why I try so hard to be that for my kids.” — Emily Roberts
“The reason I do all of the things that I do is because of the lessons I’ve learned from great people around me: family, church family, co-workers, my friends,” Roberts says. “I am lucky because I know there are people that don’t have that great support system, which is why I try so hard to be that for my kids.”
“My kids,” she says. Not an error on Roberts’ part either. It’s how she feels about all the kids she is blessed to know and teach.
“I treat my kids like they are my own,” she says. “I don’t see them as a test score or just how I can push them, but I see them as individuals who want to be loved and feel special. Isn’t that what we all want?”