Skip to main content

Being a Teacher Is ‘My Calling’ for Willow Dean

Andrea Robert’s decision to switch from studying nursing to teaching ironically came about because she wanted to complete school earlier. Once she did her student teaching in a disadvantaged area, she couldn’t image being anywhere other than a school.
“This is what I want to do,” she said. “This is my calling, to help kids see outside of their normal circumstances and educate them in a way that empowers them to do better for themselves. Once I started teaching these kids, I was like ‘this is the way for me.’ I can teach these kids to be better citizens but also educate them in a way to move them past their circumstances. 
That decision has paid off both for Robert and the students at Willow Charter Academy, where she is the dean of middle school. She recently was named a finalist for the 2024 Teacher Awards by United Way of Acadiana. Nominations came from students, parents, coworkers, and other community members, with more than 5,000 nominations and 2,000 unique nominations.

Ms. Robert named a finalist for 2024 Teacher Awards

Before coming to Willow, Robert was teaching at a teacher advancement school. She made the transition to Willow because it was closer to home and fell in love. She taught for two years and has been a dean the past four years.
Robert loves the staff at Willow, saying it’s a great group of people dedicated to growing kids. She also is passionate about the core values she passes on through training and facilitation that help kids as well as teachers.
“NHA does a great job of giving teachers the resources they need to be successful,” she said. “When you put those values in place like integrity, respect, as well as teaching the kids how to be social, they learn to be citizens of the world.”
In stressing those core values, Robert makes it clear to students that their words and actions have a profound impact on their future.

Ms. Robert helping a student

“If you put in a little, you’re not going to get much,” she said. “If you put in a lot, then your output is going to be grand.”
Keep up the excellent work, Mrs. Robert!

Check out a school near you!

About Willow Charter Academy:
Willow Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Lafayette, Louisiana, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Willow Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.