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Deborah Roberts Roker

Deborah Ann Roberts

By Anna Carter

Deborah was born on September 20, 1960, the seventh of nine children. She grew up in the small town of Perry. Her father, Ben Roberts, installed carpet, while her mother, Ruth, stayed at home and cared for her children. Though Deborah had humble beginnings, she had big dreams of becoming a television newscaster. In her sixth grade of schooling, Deborah got to know her favorite English teacher, Dorothy Hardy. This teacher was prim and proper, and helped inspire Deborah’s love of teachers. One day, Mrs. Hardy told Deborah that she was smart and had the potential to go far in life. Deborah took those words to heart and worked harder than ever.

In Perry High School, she was a cheerleader and joined the chorus. Deborah wanted to be exceptional at whatever she put her mind to. With her goal in mind, she graduated from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in journalism. From there, Deborah moved to Columbus, Georgia, and started her career with WTVM, where she reported around Lagrange, Georgia. After this, she moved on to WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee. Then, in 1987, she became the bureau chief, NASA field reporter, and weekend news anchor at WFTV in Orlando, Florida. In 1990, she worked as a correspondent for Dateline NBC, getting a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Georgia that same year for her success as a journalist. Then, she joined ABC news in 1995, the same year she married her husband, Al Roker, a renowned weatherman. In that same year, she started serving as a substitute host for Good Morning America. From then on, Deborah made huge strides with her success. She loved talking about deep, emotional stories, and her reporting skill won her several Emmy awards, a Clarion award, and a Peabody award. She wrote a non-fiction book about family wisdom and was featured on many talk shows. Needless to say, Deborah was experiencing her dreams.

Throughout her many achievements, Deborah still thought of the words that Dorothy Hardy had told her so many years ago. In a time of teaching decline and unappreciation, she sought to bring light to what teachers bring to their students. She contacted dozens of people to bring up their own experiences with educators and she started to write. The result was the book “Lessons Learned and Cherished: The Teacher Who Changed My Life,” which became a New York Times bestseller. Deborah now lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children, and one stepchild. Though she’s achieved so much, Deborah will never forget her humble beginnings in the small town of Perry.


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