Adventure Awaits: Ms. R Enters a New Chapter
2018 is a big year for Amy Roberts, née Montemerlo, English teacher and 11th grade dean; her tenth anniversary at Packer will be one that stands out in for more than just this impressive milestone. Over Spring Break, she wed her longtime life partner, Jeff Roberts, and recently announced that she is now pregnant with a baby girl due early fall of this year, just as the first class she has ever led will dive into the college application process.
Formerly, the 11th grade affectionately referred to their dean as Ms. M, and they have now begun to call her Ms. R in keeping with the practice—though the name Roberts lacks the certain tongue-twisting factor that led to the shortening of Montemerlo. This nickname is emblematic of their love for her, as was their reaction to her pregnancy announcement.
“I felt so thankful for the relationship that I have with the 11th grade; their response was warm, and encouraging, and positive, and it just totally made my day,” said Ms. R, “I came downstairs, and there were like twelve people here waiting to give me a hug and share their excitement, and they covered my door with post-it notes of encouragement and support, and it made me feel great.”
Interacting with students is the aspect of her job as a dean that Ms. Roberts treasures the most, and through these interactions she has fostered close, supportive relationships with many of her students.
“I feel like having Ms. R as a dean is like having a little personal cheerleader that I can go to in times and crisis,” said Emma Eaton (‘19). “Whenever I am stressed or anxious or anything like that, I just go to her office and say, ‘Hey, Ms. R, I’m really stressed!’ And then she gives me a pep talk, and I walk out feeling so much better. She’s an awesome resource for that.”
Though Ms. R has only been a dean for the past three years, she has been a teacher for 14. Prior to her career in education, she was a successful crime journalist in Waterbury, CT for five years, and at one point even received the prestigious New England Newspaper and Press Association Publick Occurrences Award. Despite her achievements, this work was not fulfilling to her.
“That was a very thrilling job. My friends in my twenties used to joke around—they called me Lois Lane. I went to murder scenes, and interviewed detectives, and interviewed victims’ families,” she said. “I really liked that job, but it was also incredibly emotionally draining, and I really thought a lot about what my work and what my writing was doing to give back to the community. I really struggled with that piece, because I wanted a career where I really made a difference in peoples’ lives every day.”
Ms. R began tutoring students in English and writing, and found that she enjoyed this work much more than she did her job in journalism. In spite of her lack of degree or experience, she was drawn to education and soon offered a job teaching journalism at her high school. She describes the switch as “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in my life.”
An eagerness to embrace risk and challenge, displayed in her willingness to pursue a completely new career in her 20s, is a theme that runs through all of Ms. R’s life. Her hobbies consist mainly of sports such as hiking, surfing, and running, and she loves adventure travel. She has gone on many backpacking and camping trips, traveling anywhere from upstate New York to the Inca Trail in Peru to Mt. Kilimanjaro. In 2016, she co-led a wilderness expedition in Wyoming for Packer students with Dr. Carey, who shares her interest in the outdoors.
“I just love stuff that pushes me outside my comfort zone and allows me to take a chance, whether it is learning a new language or hiking a giant mountain, things that challenge me,” she explained. As she sets out on a different type of journey, this mindset feels even more apt.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting fall for us, and it is also going to be challenging,” she said. “I feel confident in our ability to figure out parenthood, and I think of this as another exciting adventure to really embrace.”