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Q&A: OSD’s Bradley Roberson on the challenges of being an educator

Oxford School District is in the midst of major innovation. The school is applying for a District of Innovation designation, which would allow students in the district to graduate from OSD schools with an Associates Degree, while also investing in a program for career technical education.

Roberson has worked his way up as an educator, formerly as the principal of Oxford High, and is currently the Assistant Superintendent for the OSD. He spoke with The EAGLE previously about being an educator for OSD, and how he approaches his position.

What kind of challenges do you face an assistant superintendent in a rapidly growing city?

We have a very diverse community and in diverse communities there’s all sorts of different needs. Our challenge is: how do we meet the needs of all of the people within our community within our school system. Because you and as two individuals may have different needs and it’s our goal and our responsibility to meet the needs of every one of our constituents. As educators, how do we meet the needs of everybody? We want all of our kids to be successful, right? We want them all to graduate from Oxford High School as a college and career ready students that’s responsible and can go out and play an active role in society. But when you do have those needs so diversified, it’s a challenge to differentiate what you do in school to meet all of those needs to get all kids where they are.

What does your rise from a teacher to an assistant superintendent say about you?

I do take pride in everything that I do and working hard and, honestly, it just really means that a lot of people believed in and gave me opportunities, whether I really deserved them or not. To be honest with you, they all gave me an opportunity to be successful and I’ll forever be grateful for the David Rocks of the world. For the Britt Dickens, who was the principal at that time at Oxford High School, and I could go Gail Keys, who I did my student teaching under at Oxford High School. I was at Ole Miss, she was my mentor still means the world to me at every door. Quite honestly, for me, all of the doors seemed to open at the right time … That was just God’s plan for my life. They put all of those people in the pathway for me to be where I am today.

What’s the most important thing to you in your career as an educator?

Relationships are the most important thing to me. That’s my personality. That’s who I am as a person. That’s also who I was as schoolteacher. That’s who I was a principal and that’s who I am as an assistant superintendent. Relationships are really, really important to me. So if you’re asking me my biggest impact of what means the most, honestly it’s probably helping other people when there’s a student, whether it’s a teacher or whatever else on a daily basis, solving problems for themselves. Helping them achieve a goal that, maybe without my help, they wouldn’t have been able to achieve. I have this leadership, philosophy: “lead as if you have no power,” and I tell you what that means. It means that I come to work everyday with this mindset of what can I give of myself to make those around me better and that’s really how I’ve gone about my entire career, is what can I give myself today to help the person across from me be a better educator, to be a better person to help and again, I guess that’s part of that relationship component, why it’s so important to me.

What do you do to get away from work?

I like to sing so I’m able to sing a good bit, you know, in the choir and praise team and things like that. At church, I also teach a Sunday school class, young married couple in church. I’m a deacon at first Baptist Church, so I mean I’ve just. A lot of my life outside of school is with my church and then outside of that I had two kids and that’s part of the reason that I moved into the assistant superintendent’s role from the principal’s role, because it really didn’t leave a lot of time to spend with family as principal. It consumes a lot of your time.