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MEET YOUR PRINCIPAL

MEET YOUR PRINCIPAL: NICOLAS ROBERTS, NETTIE S. FREED EXPEDITIONARY SCHOOL

Nicolas RobertsOn Tuesday at 1 p.m., the District will break ground for the new Nettie S. Freed K-8 Expeditionary School, located on the grounds of the former Freed Middle School at 715 West 20th Street.

When that school opens in Fall 2023, Nic Roberts, a proud D60 product and longtime teacher and administrator, will be at the Principalship helm.

Although Mr. Roberts began his college career as a pre-med major, he eventually found Education to be his true calling.

“I went through the first three years of college as a pre-med major,” he explained. “After passing a year of organic chemistry, I decided that I was not interested in that anymore. But I was still looking for some way that I could help people.  

“Education was the answer. I decided that I could help people, and provide a better teaching experience. So I changed gears and moved into education, and haven't looked back.”

A graduate of South, Mr. Roberts returned to his alma mater to begin his teaching career.

“I was an English teacher at South for 12 years,” he said. “That was my first teaching job when I came back to town after college. I never anticipated moving into administration, but as I spent more time in the classroom, I started to realize that I could have a positive impact on more students, and other teachers, if I made the move to administration.”

For the past four years, Mr. Roberts has served as an Assistant Principal at Centennial.  

“The move across town was a little unsettling for a Southsider, but I have not regretted it for a moment. I have loved working with the staff and students at Centennial, and have enjoyed the opportunity to impact bigger systems in the building as well as in the District,” he said.

Having long been a champion of Career and Technical Education, the District’s announcement of the opening of a school based on the expeditionary model piqued Mr. Robert’s interest. 

“The prospect of the expeditionary model, as well as the ties to Career and Technical Education programs, is very appealing to me,” he said. “I have worked closely with our CTE programs at Centennial, and am very excited about giving students an opportunity to explore some of these offerings before they get to high school.”

Having taught and supervised in a traditional classroom, Mr. Roberts is excited to “explore” the world of expeditionary learning.

“I am very excited to dig into expeditionary learning, which will be very different from anything else happening on a school-wide scale in the District,” he said. “Expeditionary learning takes the focus from teachers handing students knowledge like we see in a more traditional setting, and flips it to teachers helping to guide students in a discovery of knowledge.  

“Learning focuses on in-depth explorations of compelling topics that spread across curriculums and engages multiple types of learning and understanding in students.  Students learn through hands-on experiences and first-hand explorations out in the world.”

As the next Freed era is set to get underway, Mr. Roberts’ vision for the school “is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to meet the standards that the state has set forth for them, but at the same time, kindling a sense of curiosity and wonder that will inspire them to be life-long learners after they leave us.  

“Working to build this new system will become the very first expedition for our new school.”

With Freed Middle School having served as a feeder for Centennial for decades, Mr. Roberts welcomes the return of a K-8 school to that locale.

“I am always excited to see schools come back into neighborhoods where they had been lost. The return of a middle school to this side of town is especially exciting. While the school will clearly serve as a feeder for Centennial, just as Freed did, the opportunity for students to experience CTE programs early on serves as a benefit for the programs in all of our high schools  

“When students have the opportunity to find a program that they can engage with and that motivates them, then that has positive ripples in their education from that point forw