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Roberson says he's ready to again lead school system

School chief is nearly ready for 8-hour day

Friday, June 1, 2012 6:52 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 2, 2012 3:49 PM
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When he got to his office Friday afternoon, Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson was in a good mood.

Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson is almost ready to return to work full time after undergoing emergency brain surgery in February.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson is almost ready to return to work full time after undergoing emergency brain surgery in February.

He had just come from a doctor’s appointment, one of many since February 2011, when he underwent emergency surgery for an abnormal clustering of blood vessels on his brain.

The topic of his doctor’s visit was about progress and the back-to-back budget meetings Roberson had been leading with his staff on how to deal with an estimated $23 million cut in state funding. He has been on a four-hour work day that doctors set for him at the beginning of May.

When the talk turned to his possible return to full-time status after his eight-week trial period ends in early July, Roberson was hopeful.

“The doctor and I had a discussion about that today, and I feel great about that,” Roberson said.

At the halfway point of his trial period, Roberson said he is confident he will be able to return full time for the 2012-13 school year. The Richmond County Board of Education will make its decision on whether Roberson is able to lead the system based on a doctor’s evaluation later this summer.

Roberson was absent from the school system for 11 months before returning on a part-time basis in December.

On Friday, he continued his busy routine with media interviews, a meeting with a school safety officer and time dedicated to outlining his responsibilities for next week.

This summer break, Roberson has met with staffers to complete the 2012-13 budget and has worked with transportation Director Jimmie Wiley to plan improvements next year to the bus system.

So far, much of his work has been stationary. He spends time in his office, which is decorated with artwork from students and teachers and books about Albert Einstein and President Obama.

What he really wants to do is go back to the schools and observe learning, as he did on his first day as superintendent in August 2010.

“I’ve been running into teachers going and coming on the elevator and in the halls,” Roberson said. “We’ve been embracing each other, and they can’t wait to see me back out in the schools and in the classrooms. And I can’t wait to be back out there.”

Shadowing him on his workday Friday was Portia Smith, a job coach from Decatur, Ga. employed by the school system’s insurance company to help Roberson’s transition back to his job duties two to four hours a week.

“Most of what I’ve done has been observing,” Smith said. “Just asking questions to make sure he’s OK. I’ve seen a lot of improvement.”

Venus Cain, the vice president of the school board, said she is happy to see Roberson back to work but is reluctant to draw any conclusions until the trial period is over.

Cain and other board members have worked with Roberson at board meetings but are mostly waiting to hear conclusions from his doctors.

“The last thing I want to give is false hope, but then I don’t want to give no hope,” Cain said. “I just don’t know how things are going to pan out. ... I’m still observing.”

Roberson attributes much of his recovery since surgery to rehabilitation and resting at home. He is walking with a cane but is able to drive a car again, he said.

There are not many things Roberson said he is unable to do anymore, compared with the severe impact the arteriovenous malformation had on his body more than a year ago.

Roberson, an experienced gospel musician, is even able to play his piano at home, although it’s currently out of tune.

What he said he missed the most during his absence has been the children – the reason he became an educator. Roberson began his education career as a substitute teacher at what was then Tubman High School in 1978. He continued full-time teaching, then moved into administration at school systems in South Carolina.

Now, Roberson said, Richmond County’s focus must continue to be targeted on raising student achievement. Next year the school system will be charged with implementing the first year of the state’s new standards for math and English/language arts, known as Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

While school staff and teachers work through the challenges, Roberson has full intentions to be the one leading them.

“Family and friends have helped me tremendously deal with this; my faith was fundamental,” Roberson said. “I have no questions ... that something good will come out of this.”

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Cestlavie 06/01/12 - 08:50 pm
I recently had a brief

I recently had a brief meeting with Dr. Roberson and I was so impressed just by his presence. He is an incredible person, and his passion for excellence is evident. Even though there are physical signs of the ordeal that he has been through, I do understand why the board has been so patient with his recovery. He certainly can make a tremendous difference in the school system and I sincerely pray that he will be able to resume his duties.

Jake 06/01/12 - 09:38 pm

I hope that all of this waiting for his recovery will translate to be a positive thing for Richmond County. Good administrators are hard to find.

athome 06/01/12 - 11:07 pm
I am so glad to hear this

I am so glad to hear this good news for Dr Roberson. He is a dedicated, caring administrator. Not many like him left in the schools today! Richmond County knew a good thing when they found him and they were right to be patient with his recovery!

HighSociety 06/02/12 - 05:24 am
Dr. Roberson is a fine man,

Dr. Roberson is a fine man, and I wish him the best doing what he loves.

JohnBrownAug 06/02/12 - 06:41 am
He is the one I recommended

He is the one I recommended for the job. I hope he is able to overcome the assault on his health and get Richmond Cty started on the road to improvement we all know is necessary.

Let me share my questions with you for a sec. We all know predominantly black public schools up North don't do well, as they also do poorly here.

Dr. Roberson, why not do a Lee Atwater thing that Howard Univeristy did and get a conservative in the mix? Someone who demands results for the money. Someone who is going to jump up and down if a private enterprise doesn't deliver the service the public wants.

curly123053 06/02/12 - 07:41 am
Good Luck!

I have known Mr. Roberson from when I worked for Aiken County and he has always been a good people person. His presence alone motivates others. I pray that he is able to continue what he has started on a full-time basis this fall. Good luck Mr. Roberson!

allhans 06/02/12 - 01:43 pm
Without having known him, I

Without having known him, I hope this turns out well for RC students... how long did Mr Roberson serve as Supt before he fell ill?

iLove 06/02/12 - 07:41 pm
Ain't He good!

Isn't God good?!

lynn7044 06/02/12 - 09:14 pm

I am so glad he's back, Dr. Roberson was great visiting our schools. It made teachers do there job much better. These school board leaders need a term limit. They are a lazy group. Parents you need to come out to the board meet see how they are making decision without our in put. They lied when they claim they was going to set up a counsel with teachers and parents so there input would matter. The one thing they all do together is "Lie." The biggest bright spot is when Dr. Roberson was out checking on the schools and our kids. These RCB members can't say they have visit any schools, to just walk around. Yes, I am a parent and yes, I visit not only my child school but others as well. No, I didn't have to wait to get a check to visit a school.

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