Jones School reaches milestone with 5000th alumnus



What did Dane Roberts ’13 know, and when did he know it? For the faculty, staff, graduates, family and friends at Investiture on Friday, not too many were in the know as to who the 5000th student to graduate from the Jones School would be. Few knew the dean would recognize this student or ask all the MBAs to look under their seats at the end of the ceremony. Of the graduates, one student stood tall and proud, holding a banner above his head letting all in Tudor Fieldhouse know: he would be the 5000th alumnus.

“I thought it was a fortunate honor to be part of this milestone for the Jones School,” said Dane Roberts, grade-level chair, teacher, and teacher mentor at KIPP Sharpstown College Prep.

The father of four teaches sixth grade world history and geography and is moving into a school administrator role. “The MBA curriculum is highly relevant for education leaders. I have learned how to assess problems, think strategically about solutions, and plan and execute to drive results. I think these skills will be valuable no matter what my role in education is,” Roberts said.

For Andrea Hodge, executive director of Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP), the commemoration was a particular triumph. “We are thrilled that the 5000th graduate was also in the REEP MBA for School Leaders. Dane Roberts exemplifies what is possible when opportunity and effort meet — he takes excellence to a new level, working full time during the MBA program as a sixth grade teacher at KIPP, excelling academically in the MBA, and supporting a family of six.”

Five years ago, Roberts moved with his family to Houston to help start KIPP Sharpstown College Prep as its founding sixth grade social studies and writing teacher. While teaching at KIPP, his students — primarily from low-income families — have scored among the highest in the city on standardized assessments of both writing and social studies.

Even more important than the tests, in Roberts’s view, are the rich learning opportunities he enjoys providing for his students: from visiting the city’s sacred sites of four world religions, to taking a boat tour of the Port of Houston to learn about global trade, to taking students to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park to develop character and leadership skills.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Philosophy and History of Western Civilization from University of Pittsburgh and this past weekend, with an MBA from Rice University. During his last semester at the Jones School, Roberts undertook an independent study course with Professor Robert Hoskisson to assess the strategic challenges facing charter management organizations (CMOs). His research was brought together in a case study of KIPP Houston Public Schools, which will be published in the upcoming edition of Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization.

Roberts is the recipient of many awards for writing and merit-based scholarships, including the Education Pioneers, Graduate School Fellowship. The Fellowship includes a 10-week summer consulting engagement with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which, among other initiatives, seeks to “create, expand and/or replicate systems of high-performing schools, particularly in underserved communities.” He and Emily, his wife of ten years, are the proud parents of Eden (7), Zia (5), Maris (3), and son Clee (1).

To read more about some of the adventures Dane Roberts takes on with his students, http://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/kyrie/article/Students-climb-mountains-both-literal-and-not-4355829.php?t=a2e813d3cf

To learn more about the REEP MBA for School Leaders visit reep.rice.edu.