Students leave a permanent mark in Laurie Roberts’ classroom

It’s summertime at Timberline High School and Laurie Roberts is the only teacher in the building.

The front doors are locked, the hallway lights are off and workers are waxing the cement floors. As Roberts sits in her classroom working on the computer, all she can do is stare at the wall.

The wall is packed with 1,000 notes from students.

“I’m wonderfully distracted,” said the high school English teacher.

Roberts started a wall-size yearbook signing eight years ago. The idea came when a student made a humorous comment during her class in 2010. She had the student write the comment on the wall with a Sharpie.

“I don’t even remember the comment,” Roberts said.

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At the end of that school year, she thought of a bigger idea, having students sign their names. The teens decided to also leave her notes.

It has become tradition. Each year on the last day of school students get to leave their mark.

“I feel blessed,” Roberts said. “It makes me feel that I can’t retire. I don’t want to leave this.”

Roberts, a 30-year teacher, developed “I’m on your side” as her mantra. She also promotes a culture of safety, kindness and love.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s my primary mission to have that type of climate in my classroom,” Roberts said. “I hope the wall shows students’ loyalty, affection and kindness and what is expected in my classroom.”

The desks in Roberts classrooms face away from the wall-size yearbook to prevent a distraction from learning. Roberts doesn’t plan to expand to the other walls in her room because it could turn into chaos.

“I actually consider myself a minimalist,” Roberts said. “I don’t like a lot of fuss.”

When Roberts retires in a few years, she plans to coat the signings with paint as she leaves.

“I hope I can have the joy of making this happen for the rest of my career,” Roberts said.