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Servant Leaders in Action: Education

2010 Teacher of the Year Awarded to HIU Alum

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“Any university gives out college degrees, but few nurture the Christian soul,” said Yona Roberts (B.A. 03, MSC 04) about her educational experience with HIU. Roberts, who is a resource specialist at Pendleton Elementary, was awarded the prestigious Teacher of the Year Award both for Pendleton Elementary and the Buena Park School District for 2010.

In addition to her classroom effectiveness, Roberts is an active member of the local educational community. She serves on the SST team, which provides teachers with strategies to help struggling students; she helps with the global nonprofit Heifer International by helping collect cans and coins at her school site to purchase animals for needy children around the world; she serves on the Read Across America and Drug Free committees; and she also tutors children and/or home bound students after school.

Roberts has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was in high school. “I am certain that God has given me a talent for teaching… I feel it is my God given responsibility to reach those that others cannot reach, and teach those that others cannot teach.”

Pendleton Elementary Principal, Renee Jeffrey, speaks very highly of Roberts: “Yona has unending passion and dedication for her students. She provides a safe place where students can go and learn at any time of the day - they can be found in her classroom before school, during recesses and lunches, and after school. Every year she takes a couple of her students and pays for them to go to Disneyland – on her own time and out of her own pocket.”

When asked what Roberts would tell a student thinking about attending HIU, she answered, “Attending a college or university is more than just going to class. Signing up for a college or university is signing up for the people and faculty who will surround you. Attending Hope gives you the opportunity to nurture your spirit as well as your mind. I made a core group of friends that will last a lifetime. The service projects that were available grew my love for those who are less fortunate than myself, and the dorm nights and chapel services helped me connect to God on a personal level.”