Inspiring students to succeed

Published 10:10 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

Albert Lea graduate returns to area to teach at middle school

Five years ago, Robin Viktora was a senior at Albert Lea High School, playing a leading role in the school’s FFA program. Now she teaches social studies classes at Southwest Middle School, hoping to provide students the same learning experience she received.

Viktora, 22, teaches U.S. history to seventh-graders and U.S. government to sixth- and seventh-graders.

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Prior to the beginning of school last week, students made cookies to thank Viktora and other teachers for the work they do. Students told Viktora they waited all summer to meet her because she was a new teacher, and they could not wait for school to start.

Viktora spoke of her motivation to become a teacher. She said she loves social studies and hopes her classroom can be a place be motivated to succeed.

“I want to inspire the students and show them that no matter what their background is — the home life, the upbringing, all the problems at home, anything that they’re coming from — that they can come to school, and I want to be that place where they can feel safe — not anxious — and can just escape it all,” she said.

Viktora said her involvement in FFA was “one of the reasons that got me into the leadership role, and knowing that I could take charge of a classroom and being in front of it.”

In addition to being FFA president, event organizer and regional historian for the state of Minnesota, Viktora was a member of the school’s Business Professionals of America and supermileage teams.

After graduating from high school, she attended South Dakota State University, initially planning to be an agricultural lawyer. Viktora changed her field of study to social studies education later in the school year, before transferring to Minnesota State University-Mankato, where she graduated last winter. She is working toward earning her master’s degree, taking online courses at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Viktora said she enjoys the small-town atmosphere of Albert Lea and the surrounding area and the relative proximity of Rochester and Mankato. 

As she begins her teaching career, Viktora remembered her time as a student in Albert Lea.

“What did those teachers do to me and for me that was different than the rest of them that made me know that I want to take that role and step into that (teaching) role?” she said. “And almost every single time, it was that even though I wasn’t one of the sporty, jock-type kids that a lot of teachers connect with really easily, It was those teachers who would seek me out one-on-one or say ‘hi’ to me every day, or just make that one little gesture where they were talking to just me, not everybody else in the room. And so I am hoping I can do that and just make them feel that they are wanted in the classroom and they are appreciated in the classroom.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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