A handful of staff at New Manchester High School managed to pull off a big surprise to honor one of their own Wednesday morning.

Social studies teacher Steve Robinson was the victim of a ruse when he and the social studies classes and colleagues were invited to hear a speaker during an assembly. 

Instead, the Atlanta Falcons mascot swept across the stage, followed by an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader and John Bryant, with Falcons corporate partnerships, who announced that Robinson had been honored as a “Hero in the Classroom.”

Robinson is one of 16 kindergarten through 12th grade teachers from across the state who is being honored for educational excellence in the “Heroes in the Classroom” program, sponsored by Symetra, SunTrust and the Atlanta Falcons during the 2015 NFL season.

As one of the recipients, Robinson received a $1,000 donation to New Manchester High School in his name and will be acknowledged during an on-field presentation at the Nov. 29 game when the Falcons take on the Minnesota Vikings. He was also awarded a No. 11 jersey from Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones.

He was nominated by former student, Shawnte Fields, who said, “Mr. Robinson has a unique ability to talk to and engage students on their level. He has a special place in many students’ lives, as his own life lessons have given him the tools to help others get through tough times and students.”

Fields said, “Mr. Robinson’s connection with students sets him apart — he is trustworthy and a great leader. Students respect Mr. Robinson because through him they understand that it is possible to get to college, to have a great job and to do it ethically. He has gone above and beyond to make each of his students feel accepted, smart and important. He shows genuine love for every student and will bend over backwards to help those in need.” 

Upon receiving the award, Robinson said he was “elated” but then added, “It’s not what I do this for. It’s surprising.” 

He believes that the students relate to him because he is honest with them and cares about them as individuals. 

“I try to push them to be the best they can be,” said Robinson.

Robinson, who teaches U.S. History at New Manchester High School, taught previously for 13 years at Temple High School in Carroll County. He is a graduate of the University of West Georgia, earning a bachelor’s degree in social studies education and a master’s degree in secondary education in social studies.

Robinson said he came to New Manchester two years ago because “they have a lot of progressive things going on and positive things that are epic.”

In addition to his teaching duties, Robinson coaches football, basketball and track.

He said he always wanted to teach history because he “thinks it is relatable” to students.

“So many things that happen in social studies are real-life situations and I try to bridge the past with the present,” he said.

“Steve Robinson has been with NMHS for two years now, and we certainly consider him to be an asset to our team,” said Principal Connie Craft. “He brings enormous vitality and energy to the classroom and truly makes his history classes come alive. He is beloved by his students, respected by his colleagues and admired by all who know him.”

Apparently, the feeling is mutual.

“I am blessed with a great administrator in Ms. Craft,” said Robinson, “and all the assistant principals — Ms. Gilchrist, Mr. Bissell, Ms. Holley and Ms. Westbrook. They are all excellent administrators but even better people. They care about not just the students, but the ‘whole kid.’ We have a great faculty and staff — from the cafeteria workers to the custodial staff and teachers — who all believe in New Manchester.”

Contact Liz Marino by email at liz@douglascountysentinel.com or by phone at 770-942-6571 ext. 233.

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