TOPEKA (KSNT)– A Topeka elementary school principal spent the 2022-2023 school year focusing on ways to make her school better. The focus wasn’t just on the students, she honed in on making the people who drive the ship better, the teachers.
Before the school year wrapped up Paige Roberts spent the last Monday of school making rounds around State Street Elementary. Roberts has a lot of connections in these halls and classrooms. She’s the principal, but to most of the students, she’s the first face they see when they get to school. A friendly one that makes them feel welcome.
“Every morning I stand at the front door and I do a little first bump of all the students coming in the front door,” Roberts said. “And I greet them with ‘hello’, their name, ‘I’m so glad you’re here today’, ‘you look beautiful today.'”
Roberts has been at State Street for three years. She joined the team, during a pandemic, which meant she was meeting everyone online. At the time she was the assistant principal. The pandemic setback didn’t stop her from sticking to her roots of being a teacher and a leader. Once the position of principal opened up, she went for it.
“I knew our goals, I knew our strengths,” she said. “I knew our staff, our students, our parents. All of those relationships. I didn’t have to start from scratch. I could continue building on that.”
Roberts said since she has been here, the school was on improvement. This means the school was performing lower than others in the district. Under her leadership, they had to prove they we going to make progress. So, Roberts got to work putting plans together on how they will do just that. But her approach was different than focusing on students.
“Absolutely students are first and foremost,” she said. “But it’s the teachers that are driving the ship every day in those classrooms. So, just equipping them with that space of celebrating them, letting them know they’re doing the right thing, is all important.”
This year, State Street achieved its improvement goal early in the year. It was mostly because Roberts was determined to be a leader who shows how much her team is appreciated for the hard work they put in for these kids every day. The goals were also achieved due to the dedication and determination of the staff.
“What is the one thing we all want when we come in to work?” Roberts said. “We want to be recognized. We want to be praised for what we do well. I know I want that, so why wouldn’t my people want that as well? So I want to institute that.”
Roberts said she doesn’t know if she’s an Everything Woman. But after she explained how much effort and care she puts into her team and the students as a whole, some could agree she is an Everything Woman.
“I don’t know how to answer that,” Roberts said. “Because I do think that I am learning and growing every single day and I don’t ever want that to stop for me. But maybe I am everything to one student in this building, who when they get to come through that front door and they know Mrs. Roberts is going to bring them in for a hug, that’s everything- that is the world- to them. If I am that one person, or that one everything of a woman to them and that positive role model then that’s what I want to be.”
If you have someone you would like to nominate for our Everything Woman segment, nominate them here. We feature these stories once a month, on the last Tuesday of the month during the 10 p.m. newscast on 27 News.