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40 years of teaching in Newton
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Family and friends plan to celebrate a woman who has dedicated most of her life to teaching with a retirement party on Sunday afternoon.

Jani Roberts said she retired in July after teaching for 40 years in Newton County at two Christian schools.

Staci Lawrence, who said Roberts taught her two children in Pre-K and kindergarten and is planning the celebration, said Roberts' colleagues, family members, students and friends plan to honor Roberts' career with a drop-in reception on Oct. 14 at Belmont Baptist Church in Conyers. Lawrence said the event is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"There are a lot of people in the county who know her so we just want to get the word out that she is retiring and celebrate her career," Lawrence said. "I just wanted to do something special and make her feel special on her retirement."

Roberts started teaching in August 1972 at Tabernacle Christian School, which was a school at the Baptist Tabernacle in Newton County. When Tabernacle Christian School closed, Roberts continued her teaching career at Grace Christian Academy, also in Newton County, where she taught up until her retirement.

Roberts said she mainly taught kindergarten, first and second grade but she also taught high school students music and band. She said she did a lot of things at the school, even serving as a cheerleading advisor.

"I think one of the greatest things about teaching is what you can do not just in the brain to learn, but it's reaching the child and touching the child's heart for the Lord," she said. "I loved to teach them how to read and to do numbers and math, but my greatest joy was teaching them the Bible. And see them accept the Lord as their personal Savior."

Roberts said as a teacher, she felt as though she was a missionary who did not have to travel to another country in order to touch lives.

"God brought my mission field to me everyday through the lives of children and being able to even help the parents," she said. Lots of times with children in kindergarten, first and second grade, it's the first time that parents have any inclination about school," she said. "It's such a joy to able to help somebody and to touch a little life."

Roberts and her husband Jerry live in the community of Almon and have lived in their home for 48 years. The couple has two sons, Jerry Jr. and Todd, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Roberts said she had the privilege to teach both of her sons and all five of her grandchildren.

She said even though she taught for 40 years, she has had the help from the Lord and her husband to give her the encouragement she needed to continue teaching.

"If I accomplished anything, it was not me; it was the Lord. He gave me opportunity and the ability," she said. "I was able to do all of these things with the help of my husband and his encouragement.

"Even the help he would do to decorate my room and things like that. We are truly one and I could not have done the things that I've got to do if I did not have his support and encouragement. I thank the Lord that he gave Jerry to me and we were able to serve the Lord together all of these years."

As for teachers entering into the profession, Roberts had this advice.

"Make sure that teaching is your calling and not your job. You will be able, with your heart, to reach children if it's your calling," she said. Make sure that you know God has called you into teaching.

"The blessings of teaching do not come in a pay check. It comes in the heart and nobody can buy what it actually does when you are a teacher."