Robert Hansbury is all hands on deck for this school year

Robert Hansbury is a new Teaching Assistant here at Westford Academy.  He works one on one with students to help them experience as much success in the classroom as possible.

James Farley

Robert Hansbury is a new Teaching Assistant here at Westford Academy. He works one on one with students to help them experience as much success in the classroom as possible.

James Farley, Staff Writer

Following a three year break from teaching, new Teaching Assistant Robert Hansbury is looking forward to a reentry here at Westford Academy.


Q:  Let’s get to know a little bit about you. Where did you grow up?  Do you have any favorite childhood memories?

A:  I grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and attended high school there.  My favorite childhood memories are definitely playing baseball and basketball; they were definitely a big part of my life. My favorite sport was probably baseball.  I played left field my sophomore and junior seasons, and then my senior year I played center.

Q:  Do you have any hobbies outside of school you enjoy partaking in?

A:  I have my son who’s three-and-a-half, so most of my time is with him.  I guess you could call that a hobby.  We do a lot of stuff, painting and all that good stuff.

Q:  Seeing that the teachers at Westford Academy are all role models, what role models did you have and rely on throughout your high school career?

A:  I think [Michael O’Keeffe] was my role model.  He was a history teacher there and the varsity baseball coach.  He just left; this was his last year there.  [He is] definitely a positive influence in my life.  He helped me through high school, whenever I needed, questions, advice, etc.  I actually coached at Chelmsford High for about six years, so I worked with him too. It was good to see another side of him.

Q:  How have you gotten to this point in your career?

A:  When my son was born, I took three years off.  I worked at another school before this, Valley Collaborative.  I just started back up about three weeks ago.  [It is] definitely good to get back into being positive influences on kids and stuff like that.   It’s definitely something I enjoy doing.  I’m glad to be back for sure.

Q:  What persuaded you to pursue this job?

A:  [Bruce Rich] is one of my really good friends. He works here.  He said ‘we have a job opening’ and I applied for it.  I ended up getting it.  I mean, I couldn’t be happier with it.

Q:  As it is your first year here at Westford Academy, would you mind providing a description of your job here?

A:  With a student here, I work one-on-one.  My job is to make sure that we are staying on task, making sure he gets to his classes, making sure his work is getting done, etc.   I work from 7:25-11, I come home, and we’ll meet after school from 12-2.  I just met him three weeks ago, and now we’re best friends!

Q:  How have your interactions with both students and staff been so far this year?

A:  I mean honestly, everyone is super friendly, [and] super professional.  There’s definitely a lot of positive energy in the school for sure.  I know [Bruce Rich], and [William Saunders]. I am friends with him outside of school too, so definitely those two.  [Scott Brown] the gym teacher is super nice.  He’s been great, telling me what to do, playing tennis with the kids, and stuff like that.  [Roni Elliot], she’s one of the special education teachers too. She’s been great.  

Q:  How has the pandemic affected your style of teaching, as well as the classroom environment you are used to being in?

A:  I manage at the Boston Billiards Casino up in Nashua, and we’re required to wear masks, and we have to make sure all the other employees wear their masks also.  I think I had a little bit of a step up.  But it’s definitely an adjustment. Wearing masks makes it a lot harder.  It makes you feel a bit claustrophobic in your face.  But obviously, we want to respect and make sure everyone is healthy.  That’s definitely the right thing to do.

Q:  What kind of adjustments have you made to ease into the swing of things this school year?

A:  I mean, having three years off, it’s definitely been different.  Not to say it’s stressful, but it’s been an adjustment getting back into it.  I think wearing a mask is the main thingJust making sure you follow the directions, making sure everyone’s being safe [is very important]. 

Q:  Do you feel safe here in school with the hybrid model that is intact?  Why or why not?

A:  I feel like there’s no perfect answer, because there’s still a lot of unknown about what’s going on with COVID.  I do think that this is the best plan that could possibly be put in place.  I think we’re giving people the option whether they want to come to school or not, and the people that are there are always wearing a mask.  There’s not a person I see in school without their mask on at any point in time.  So I think, as long as everybody does their part, it’s going to be a successful model.