Kevin Roberts, Ed.M.’09, is ready to take on the world.By Amber Haskins
When Kevin Roberts, Ed.M.’09, was contacted by the Farm of the Child, a nonprofit orphanage in Honduras, its staff was finalizing plans for a professional development trip and were looking to buy new language arts textbooks for its school. They asked Roberts, who had done prior volunteer work for the organization, if he would be willing to help them obtain materials and create activities to strengthen their language arts program. With two other International Education Policy master’s students, Roberts proceeded to research professional development strategies, crosscultural exchange strategies, and textbook options.
Eventually he found himself back in Honduras. “The trip itself was a dose of reality for everyone who went,” Roberts says of the group of teachers from the Espiritu Santo Catholic School in Safety Harbor, Fla. who accompanied him. “It is not until one is on the ground experiencing the reality of the situation that can one begin to conceive what life is like for the rural Honduran.” It can be a shock to some, explains Roberts, to experience the intense heat, and to observe the simple things that the open-air classrooms lack, such as overhead projectors and, on occasion, electricity.
Journeying back to the orphanage after four years away was personally gratifying for Roberts. In spite of the many emotional and physical barriers the students must overcome, as well as the lack of resources, they have ranked among the highest performers in math and reading on Honduran national assessments. For Roberts, “it was great to see the children growing up and doing well.”
He hopes the trip has broadened the worldview of the Espiritu Santo volunteers and made them aware of the realities in which most of the people in this world live. “To actually see, smell, touch, and interact with people living at this level can have a profound effect and change perceptions on reality,” he says.
With graduation just a few months behind him, Roberts hopes to continue promoting education and creating opportunities for those whose situations may not allow for the best education to explore their abilities. “To me, it does not make much difference if I am doing this for people in Boston or Guayaquil [Ecuador], with a nonprofit or a government organization. I just hope that somehow I can use my abilities to help others to achieve their full potential.”