In the fall of 2015, I was working in an amazing public school district (shout out to Coppell ISD), in a transformational setting (thank you, Richard J. Lee elementary). We regularly gave tours of our building, which we considered to be a “learning tool” itself, when one day a school popped up on our calendar: River Oaks Baptist School (ROBS) from Houston, Texas. To be honest, I had never heard of the school and assumed (incorrectly) that this school would not be able to do anything for me professionally.
That Thursday’s tour was like many I gave in my two years at Lee. Here was a group of teachers, administrators, and architects looking to transform the teaching and learning of their students. We spent just over an hour walking around, sharing how we used the building as a learning tool, and answering any questions they had. As the group prepared to leave, Head of School Leanne Reynolds asked me if I would be interested if ROBS had a position available. I politely informed her that my wife had always said she was willing to move “anywhere but Houston.” Besides, I saw myself as a “public school” person – with the goal of being a superintendent some day!
Fast forward a couple months… and my family had just toured ROBS. Walking towards our car, my wife Holly looked at me and said, “If you are offered a job, you have to accept it. This place is amazing!” That conversation took place in early 2016. I am now in my fifth year at ROBS, Holly is a teacher here, and our two youngest still attend ROBS.
If I hadn’t met that group of teachers and administrators face-to-face, I am confident I would still be (happily) working in public school. Now knowing this is the perfect place for me and my family to work and go to school, I would have missed out by not coming here. Here at ROBS, we value education in many forms—public, private, charter, homeschool—and we believe that this is the PERFECT place for many teachers and administrators that may not be even considering a move to private school.
In a 1999 study by the NAIS National Opinion Poll on Perceptions of Independent Schools, people were asked what they value in a “quality education.” Things like high quality teachers, access to technology, preparing students for college, and safety were at the top of the list. Thinking back on why I left a great public school system to come to an independent school, those factors were important, but the “hook” for me was that I found a school that values ambitious academics and abiding Christian values in equal measure. Over time, it became clear that this was not just a ROBS slogan, but a special way of teaching and learning—one that fulfills me as an educator, assures me as a parent, and benefits and blesses children.
We recently surveyed current employees who came from public schools about what attracted them to ROBS. Their top reasons were (1) smaller class sizes; (2) spiritual growth of students, faculty, and staff; and (3) a supportive climate. But we wanted to know more, so we asked them to compare their ROBS and public school experiences. They had a lot to say! Here’s a small sampling:
“It’s 1,000 times better in just about every way. ROBS students are the sweetest and most respectful kids I’ve gotten to work with. The resources are unparalleled. My colleagues are great! And I’m paid better at ROBS than in public school.”
“The biggest difference is the ability to have a healthy work/home life balance. I have more time and resources during the school day to plan, grade, meet as a team, and collaborate with other teachers, which allows me to focus on my health and family when I come home from work.”
“There’s really no comparison; it is truly night and day. ROBS students have a desire to learn and do well. Parents are more involved. It’s nice to have ownership over the curriculum and not have to build the lessons around passing a standardized test. And we receive so much support from administrators, learning specialists, counselors, and department chairs.”
“I have consistently found ROBS to be a place filled with the light of Christ. Because emphasis is placed on both employees and students following Jesus’s example in words and actions, the school culture exudes a sense of joy, love, and peace.”
“Teaching at ROBS has truly been life changing.”
For me, it begs two questions: What are you looking for in your next position as a teacher or administrator? Could ROBS be the right next step for you? I hope you’ll reach out to find the answers.
Todd Herauf, Ed.D.
Associate Head of School for Academics
Twitter @teachintodd #changetheworld2021