2007 Recipient - William Robertson
Will Robertson began his career in a one-room schoolhouse in West Virginia. Moving to Roanoke, he taught high school English and social studies, then assumed a role in administration. Taking a hiatus from the schoolyard in the early '70s, Robertson became involved in politics, traveling the world while serving a Virginia governor and five presidents. He was the first black American assistant to the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and later served in President Nixon's committee on mental retardation. In 1976, President Ford named Robertson to head the Peace Corps in Kenya and the Seychelles. During President Reagan's administration, he first worked in the Defense Department and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. As a community servant, Robertson was instrumental in the founding of Camp Virginia Jaycee, a retreat for mentally challenged citizens, and he also pioneered a Jaycees camp in Kenya.
Today, at 74, Will Robertson has gone full circle and is a teacher of American history at a middle school in a poverty-stricken area in Tampa. His son said of him that he has "usable genius," and that he "could be a multimillionaire, but that was never his goal."
Robertson, who holds a master's degree in administration and guidance from Radford University, says he plans to teach until he is 80 or 85.