‘Mr Bob’ says he’s ready for change
Jerry Roberts often found himself at the right place, at the right time.
He had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in intermediate education. His father dropped him off near Madison and said, “Write when you get a job.”
Roberts began hitchhiking, and a man stopped and offered to give him a ride. Through their conversation, Roberts talked about being a teacher, and the man told him that he was looking for one. The man owned a diving resort on one of the Bay islands, off of Honduras, and wanted to teach the local residents.
“How many people get a job teaching in Honduras, hitchhiking? For me, it was normal,” he said. “It had its ups and downs. It was a wonderful experience. It was a beautiful area.”
Roberts taught there a year and then returned to Wisconsin. “I got a job teaching at the Eau Claire Academy – a large group home for troubled youth,” he said.
After teaching there for three years, he headed to UW-Stout to get a master’s degree in library science.
Roberts said he went into education because he wanted to help people. He thought about going into counseling but then decided on library science.
“I moved to Appleton in 1985 and started here (Weyauwega-Fremont School District) in September 1985,” he said.
Roberts retired as the school district’s middle and high school librarian after the end of the 2010-11 school year.
“I anticipated I was going to retire, and the governor put the icing on the cake,” he said.
He said being a librarian in the W-F School District was an excellent career for him.
“The staff is wonderfu. The students are terrific, and the administration is trying to meet the demands of the changing environment,” he said.
He found it wonderful to work in the library and said, “It’s time for some younger blood to take over.”
During the last 20-plus years, Roberts read his share of young adult books.
“I’ve read 160-some books,” he said. “I’m proud about making the library a wonderful collection. I’ve always wanted to buy the best of the best for the libraries.”
He enjoyed that process and read many reviews to help him choose books.
“The book selection process has been good. Technology has been interesting. High School Quiz Bowl has been a wonderful experience,” Roberts said. “We’ve done very well throughout the career – more wins than losses, which any coach can be proud of.”
He enjoyed the students, faculty and community, and said that everyone always called him “Mr. Bob.”
It was during his second year in the district that Char Cullen started calling him that. “Kudos to Char Cullen for starting to call me ‘Mr. Bob,'” he said.
Roberts says he never dreaded going to work. He particularly enjoyed seeing the second generation of students. “It’s interesting to see the mannerisms or some sparkle or some attitude,” he said.
During his 20-plus years of commuting from Appleton, he had fun being in car pools.
More recently, it was just him, listening to audiobooks on tape.
Roberts and his wife, Jeanne, have two children: Dylan and Kahla.
“We’ve both been very blessed to be at the right place at the right time,” Roberts said. “It’s time to leave for the next generation to come in, for someone else to take the reins.”
He thanks the W-F community for their youth. “It’s been a great job,” Roberts said.
He plans to travel, volunteer and work part time.
“I’m not retiring,” he said. “Retiring is when you’re 85 years old. I’m retreading.”