Lemoore High School long-time educator Jannie Roberson, selected as Lemoore Union High School's Educator of the Year

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore Union High School District Educator of the Year Jannie Roberson
Lemoore Union High School District Educator of the Year Jannie Roberson

Lemoore High School Social Science teacher Jannie Roberson has a deep, enduring history with the local high school. As a former Tiger herself, Roberson was a standout student at Lemoore High School and, in 1970, a Homecoming Queen nominee.

Over the years, the Lemoore Union High School District has become a haven for former students turned educators. Roberson is one of many Lemoore High expatriates who ventured into the real world, eventually returning to her roots, hoping to give a little something back to her community.

The former Tiger is the mother of three children: Janee Young, Gene Smith, and Janine Smith. She is married to Dr. Willard Roberson.

A confessed life-long learner, Roberson decided to turn her love of education into a profession. Eventually, like thousands of other would-be teachers, she earned a hard-earned teaching credential.

She began her quest at West Hills College and then later earned a Fresno State degree. She earned a master’s degree from Fresno Pacific. Friends and others may be surprised that Roberson initially majored in Spanish but changed majors upon entering Fresno State.

She earned an administrative credential, but she always seemed to prefer the classroom to the office.

After earning her teaching credential, Roberson began teaching part-time in the Hanford Unified School District. The talented educator then accepted a full-time job at Lemoore High in 1989, and she’s been there ever since – and hundreds of students have been the better for it.

Over the years, the well-versed teacher has taught English and Social Sciences. Currently, she teachers AP Geography and U.S. History.

Her dedication to her craft resulted in one of local education’s highest honors.

Recently, a contingent from the administration office, including Lemoore High’s principal, visited her classroom and announced to a shocked Roberson and her wide-eyed students that she was the 2021 Lemoore High School District Teacher of the year.

Normally, such an honor usually comes equipped with an awards ceremony in front of family, friends, and peers. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, such a celebration may not be possible. Instead, the Kings County Office of Education may put together a video highlighting Roberson and her fellow Kings County honorees.

Teaching came naturally to Roberson, who confessed to the title of a life-long learner. “I think I’ve always known that I’ve enjoyed learning,” she said. At age three and four, she remembered a favorite aunt began instilling in her a longing to learn. “I started first grade ready to learn,” she remembered, thanks to her aunt.

And in a student’s life, there inevitably is always a favorite teacher, and in Roberson’s case, it was longtime Lemoore area teacher Nancy Focht who took the quiet, shy student and reinforced her love for learning. “She kept me in every day during lunch.”

She always has a special rapport with her students. While she was certainly firm and demanding in the classroom, Roberson rarely has discipline issues with her students. She remembers once sending a student to the office for a discipline issue, and the assistant principal later called her, expressing bewilderment that she had referred a student to him. He told her he had never received a wayward student from her classroom.

The long-time teacher summed up her attitude toward discipline. “I treat them (students) with respect, and I expect them to treat me with respect. It’s worked for me.”

Like most outstanding teachers, Roberson seeks education’s high ground. “I love it. It’s my passion. I take them (students) as far as I can, and I’m always looking for better ways to connect with my students,” she said.

As a teacher, Roberson laments the current state of education. COVID-19, she believes, has taken a toll on parents, teachers, and above all, students. “I know it’s difficult for parents and students. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m an effective teacher because I don’t see their faces. It’s a struggle,” she said.

Like many schools, Lemoore High struggles with a schedule that divides students into part-time classroom learners and part-time distance learners. “The challenge is … that it’s really frustrating, reaching out to your students.”

She says it was humbling when Principal Rodney Brumit and Lemoore Union High School District members suddenly appeared unannounced in her classroom. “They really caught me off guard,” said Roberson. “My emotions were all over the place. I was shocked.”

Like most people, teachers especially, are looking forward to the end of COVID-19 and everything that comes with it: split schedules, distance learning, and the normal fears and insecurities that accompany a difficult and sometimes deadly virus.

However, despite these difficult times, schools will persevere, and good teachers, like Jannie Roberson, will continue to do what they’ve done for their entire careers. They will teach to the best of their abilities.

“I went to work every day and always gave 100 percent,” said Roberson. She adds that it’s something she will always continue to do regardless of the circumstances. She said that her students deserve it. 

And her students certainly deserve her.



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