FSC to Establish Roberts Academy, Purchase United Methodist Building
Marjorie and Hal Roberts with President Kerr and Robert L. Fryer, Jr., '70, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
School Will Serve Gifted Children with Dyslexia
LAKELAND, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2008) — Florida Southern College President Anne Kerr today announced a $3.5-million gift from Marjorie and Hal Roberts of Lakeland that will be used to purchase the United Methodist Building and establish a special school for gifted children with dyslexia.
The Roberts Academy, expected to open in fall 2010, will offer a full complement of academic programs as well as support and training for parents and teachers of gifted students with dyslexia, a cause close to the couple’s hearts because they have a grandson who is gifted and has dyslexia.
Hal Roberts said the couple’s grandson was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade. “He was perplexed … because he could calculate square roots but couldn’t read, although his classmates could,” he said. “The frustration of a child with dyslexia affects the whole family.”
The Roberts Academy will be a full-day, transitional school that offers reading, math, science, and other elementary school subjects. Teachers will be trained in the Orton-Gillingham Method of reading instruction. The Academy also will provide support and training programs for parents and families, including a resource library. Counseling and occupational therapy will be available, as well.
“Marjorie and Hal Roberts have inspired our campus community through their passion and vision to create the best programs to help students with learning differences achieve academic success, so that they can one day achieve their dreams,” said FSC president Dr. Anne Kerr. “Florida Southern's mission is to prepare students to make a positive contribution to society, and I can think of no more important way than through education.
The United Methodist Building, at 1140 E. McDonald St., will house the Roberts Academy, the Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy, the Florida Southern Department of Education, and the College’s preschool and kindergarten programs. In addition, the building will be home to the Hollis-Hays Library, which is among the most comprehensive children’s collections in the state.
The Florida United Methodist Conference is in the process of planning its relocation and will work closely with Florida Southern during this period of transition.
In 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts established and endowed the Roberts Learning and Literacy Center, which trains teachers to identify learning differences among young students, especially in the areas of reading and literacy, so that interventions may be implemented as early as possible. The Roberts Center hosts seminars and workshops for the College’s education majors as well as community educators. It also sponsors the highly regarded Roberts Lecture Series, which draws leading national authorities in the fields of dyslexia, sensory processing challenges and other learning differences .
“Florida Southern is proud to partner with the Roberts family in these programs that will profoundly impact the lives of countless children and their families,” Dr. Kerr said.
The Robertses have three children who graduated from Florida Southern College. Mrs. Roberts is a member of the Florida Southern College Board of Trustees.