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Lafayette High School teacher devotes career to hometown

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The beautiful Oxford Square, which anchors the town that drew Roberts home. Photo by Clay Patrick/SkyView Drone Solutions MS LLC.

Clay Patrick
Oxford Stories
cmpatri1@go.olemiss.edu

The deep South is a place where many feel at home. Lafayette High School librarian Ann Roberts, 47, has returned to Oxford at several key moments in her life. She made a career out of giving back to her community through education and hopes to inspire others to do the same.

Born and raised in Oxford, Roberts’ early memories are of riding bikes with her Oxford Elementary friends. Her most fond school memories were physical education classes and breezy spring days when students played outside under the parachute. She remembers how light filtered through the brightly colored fabric, as she and other children scrambled underneath the massive sheet.

Other vivid childhood memories are with cousins at their grandmother’s home in Houlka, Mississippi, a one-intersection town between Pontotoc and Houston. The only entertainment came from the children’s imaginations. Playing old marching band instruments, they paraded up and down the sidewalks, often visiting her great aunt, who greeted the ruckus with cookies and Kool-Aid.

Roberts’ years at Oxford High School were relatively quiet, where her favorite subject was English. After high school, she planned to study English education at Mississippi College in Clinton, but after her freshman year, she came home to Ole Miss for the same degree.

During this time, she met Darren Roberts, her future husband, through a family friend. Darren Roberts is deputy sheriff, who has been with the Lafayette County Sherriff’s Department for 21 years. They began dating in 1991 and were married two years later on Sept. 11,1993. They have two sons, Jacob and John.

Her love for teaching stems from the people she has met along the way, and this cast of characters has made it “more than enjoyable.” She started her career as a teaching assistant at Rankin Elementary, where she loved talking to her pre-k students because of the cute, yet wildly funny things they said.

After the year in pre-k, her first “real” teaching job was in the Northwest Community College Job Training Partnership GED program in Bruce, Mississippi. Her students got a real kick out of her most fond memory of those two years. She ran away from a mouse in the restroom, screaming hysterically. At this point in her career, she returned home to Oxford once again to teach special education at LHS.

During those 12 years of special education, she fell in love with the library. Drawn in by the smell of new books, then-librarian Kay Brick mentored her about how to be a librarian. In 2001, she returned to the University of Mississippi to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Soon after, she took her Praxis II test for certification in library science. This semester marks the start of her sixth year in the LHS library.

Through her lifelong career in education, Roberts has enriched the lives of countless students. “Mrs. Roberts is a very helpful and dependable person, and she’s always willing to help others,” said pupil Sarah Beth Tidwell. “She’s a fun librarian and always makes people laugh.”

Roberts appreciates that every day is different, but her favorite moments are when a student comes to her looking for a new book, or when they tell her what they read in their free time. She wishes she could see more pupils pursuing reading for pleasure, instead of by force.

A self-proclaimed “princess at heart,” Roberts wants to retire in the next few years, as her loving husband devotes himself to spoiling her. When asked what she might do to occupy her time in retirement, she perused the idea of opening her own clothing boutique, but mainly wants to spend time traveling to visit her son Jacob.

He is a senior cadet at West Point, who is considering full-time enlistment and a lifelong military after graduation. She laughs that her career taught her how to multitask very well, but says that the most punctual life advice she could give would be to never have any regrets.

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