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Advice from MA Teacher, Age 101, on Good Teachers, Students

At 101, Kay Roberts still dresses up to read to students from the Cat in the Hat. After a half-century as an educator, she knows what makes a good teacher, and a good student. Courtesy: Massachusetts Teachers Assn.
At 101, Kay Roberts still dresses up to read to students from the Cat in the Hat. After a half-century as an educator, she knows what makes a good teacher, and a good student. Courtesy: Massachusetts Teachers Assn.
September 15, 2015

BOSTON - If you want to know what makes a good teacher and a good student, you might want to ask someone with classroom experience. Now that she is 101 years of age, Kay Roberts has plenty of that.

She started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Vermont in 1937, but it wasn't long before Kay Roberts was at the blackboard in the Commonwealth. She spent about a half-century teaching students and mentoring plenty of fellow teachers.

"The qualities of a good teacher - first place, a love of young people," says Roberts. "A love of whatever they're teaching. A wonderful disposition, so they can get along with everybody."

Roberts says her philosophy of teaching is pretty simple: never neglect young people, because what they learn can help them the rest of their lives. She still volunteers at Raynham Elementary Schools, where just last year, she dressed up as the Cat in the Hat and read from that book for "Read Across America Day."

Roberts says most teachers work very hard at their jobs. She thinks students ought to pay attention to that, especially when they get a really good teacher.

"They need to have confidence in their teachers, and I certainly think they should respect them," she says. "They don't necessarily have to love them, but I do think, when they have a good teacher, they should respect that person."

Roberts earned plenty of respect during her career. She wrote a history book and, as president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association in the 1970s, helped pass the nation's first bilingual-education bill. She is also the longest-serving member of the National Education Association.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA