August Top Notch Teacher: UW-La Crosse’s Charlotte Roberts

Education professor helping meet her students' needs so they teach future children
August Tnt 2020

LA CROSSE, Wis (WKBT) – Teachers help children achieve the life they want when they become adults.  For one UW-La Crosse educator, her mission is to prepare new teachers so they can make an impact on children.

“I went into higher ed because I wanted to feel like I was making a larger impact on students,” said Dr. Charlotte Roberts, an assistant education professor at UW-La Crosse.

Roberts can’t think of a better place to be than a classroom. Her time teaching children is a passion she reveals in a conversation.

“I taught at the elementary school level for seven years,” Roberts said. “There is just something that just awakens the soul about that.”

The year 2020 has obviously made classroom learning a little harder to execute.

“You can read so much more when you’re in person than when someone’s behind a camera,” she said.

Those obstacles don’t mean she can’t teach.

“How do we work within those limitations? That’s constantly what teachers do,” she said. “I feel like teaching is more essential now than ever, but I’m probably always going to feel that way.”

Roberts has been teaching a new group of students.

“I’ve been here at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse for a year,” she said.

Roberts has taught many students, some of whom had to overcome unfortunate realities.

“When I hear students say, ‘Dr. Roberts, I slept in my car last night because I can’t afford my rent.’ Or, ‘Dr. Roberts, I’m looking for something to eat because I haven’t had anything to eat in the past 24 hours,'” Roberts said. “Think about the fact that you’re there teaching pre-service teachers, how they’re going to meet the needs of their students, but yet their basic needs aren’t being met.”

Researchers at Temple University, and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab in 2018, found more than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing.

“For example, you face students in poverty when you’re in those elementary, middle, high school levels,” Roberts said. “You still face that when you’re at the university level.”

Roberts is trying to show her students there’s help out there.

“Fortunately I serve on the University’s care team,” she said. “We help students how to access our food pantry on campus; if you’re struggling with financial aid. what can we do in that situation,”

She understands the education tree, and the impact her students can make when they branch out to teach their own students.

“I have a student that was just recognized as a first-year teacher of the year,” Roberts said.

Her dream is about making other people’s dreams come true.

“I would say it’s a village that helps them get there,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s just me.”

Those students will then pass that hope to the next generation.

“It ends up being the reason why we teach. Right? To see that our students are successful,” Roberts said.