roberts 32Dr. Terrence Roberts, PhD. returned to Value Schools in May to visit our 9th grade Freshman Seminar students at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Roberts was one of nine African American students to attend Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The first of any African American students to attend the racially segregated school, they faced brutal racism, bigotry, and violence, and were soon dubbed “The Little Rock Nine.” These students became a symbol of courage and justice, fighting to promote the ideals of equality of opportunity for all.

Dr. Roberts’s life is a testament not only to the courage it took to enter Little Rock Central back in 1957, but to his willingness and generosity to give back the wealth of his experience to others.

The overarching theme at each of the institutions [where I went to school] was ‘Excellence in Education...You have to become CEO of your own independent-learning enterprise."
-- Dr. Terrence Roberts

Dr. Roberts shared his experience as an African American student under violent and daily threat at Little Rock Central, as well as articulate philosophies on life, education, race, equality, opportunity, and commitment.

“The overarching theme at each of the institutions [where I went to school] was ‘Excellence in Education,’” he said. “You kids must take on an executive responsibility for learning. You have to become CEO of your own independent-learning enterprise.”

Dr. Roberts reminded us that even in the face of violence and opposition, one can still stay true to oneself while rising to meet nearly any challenge.

roberts 46"Fear does not have to interfere with what you can do, what you choose to do. You can do it anyway,” he told students. "Just put the fear in your pocket and keep going. That’s what I did at Central. I learned I could take a vow of non-violence, and I could still live.”

In addition to the larger group speech, Dr. Roberts participated in a “Town Hall” with a select group of students. There, he was even more specific on the details of his life and philosophy. When it was over, students did not want to leave. Instead, they encircled Dr. Roberts, asked more questions, took ’selfies’, and shared their own experiences of challenge and hope.

Value Schools has a long-standing curricular connection between our students and the Little Rock Nine. Because of the generosity of many on the Value Schools Boards of Directors, select Value Schools students have, over the years, been able to travel to Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, a National Historic Site, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Click to see the day!

"The Little Rock Nine were students who put their lives at risk each day in order to demonstrate academic excellence,” said David Doyle, CEO of Value Schools. "They developed their potential in the face of a community who didn't want them to succeed. They kept cool and demonstrated respect when many adults and students disrespected them. In short, the Little Rock Nine demonstrated the same values in 1957 that we ask our students to live every day at Value Schools.”

Dr. Roberts and all those of the Little Rock Nine have been - and will continue to be - heroes and reminders for all of us. As Freshmen study the Little Rock Nine in Seminar, and present their motivational speeches to their peers, a poster of The Little Rock Nine stands before the podium with the word “Determination" written boldly across the top, enabling students to channel the courage and determination of the Little Rock Nine.

We thank Dr. Roberts for visiting our students, for sharing his ideas, his hopes, and his wisdom. He is an inspiration to us all!

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