Black Hills State University alumna Kjaersti (Bushilla) Roberts was recently honored with a Crystal Apple Award for her work as a junior high language arts teacher in Klamath County School District in Klamath Falls, Ore.
For Kjaersti (Bushilla) Roberts teaching is not simply helping students succeed in class, but providing them the tools to be successful throughout their lives. 

“As much as content and passing state tests are important to their education so is learning how to be a life-long learner,” said the Black Hills State University alumna.  “I am passionate about giving my students life-long skills that encourage learning. I want them to be problem solvers, critical thinkers and make discoveries. Students are valuable; they have a purpose to fulfill and they are counting on me to help them realize their potential by bringing out their strengths.”

Roberts, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BHSU, was recently honored with a Crystal Apple Award for her work as a junior high language arts teacher in the Klamath County School District in Klamath Falls, Ore.

Throughout her seven years teaching at Brixner Jr. High, Roberts has been involved in many programs outside of the classroom designed to provide extra assistance to struggling students including: school district tutor for expelled students; member of the Positive Behavior Intervention Support committee; and head of Wednesday School, an academic and behavior afterschool program. She also piloted an English Filter class for failing students. “I do try to implement programs that benefit the school and our students,” she said. “I am by nature a problem solver and want to try to make things more efficient and effective.”   

This was the first time the district has given out the Crystal Apple Awards which highlight the skills and leadership of district educators who transform the lives of the students daily, according to a district news release.

Roberts said she was humbled by the honor. “It was nice to be recognized for my efforts and investment in my students and in my profession,” she said. “Recognition is never my motivator though. My students’ education, their lives and their future is my motivator.”

Roberts, who grew up in Rapid City, earned her bachelor of science in English education in 2001 and her master of science in curriculum and instruction in 2007. Roberts said she loved the small campus and small classes BHSU offered as well as the supportive and challenging faculty.  

“My graduate work was a love/hate relationship. Getting my master’s through BHSU was the hardest endeavor, other than parenting, that I have had to endure,” she said. “I was extremely challenged. I had to think in ways I never had thought before.” Roberts said she brought much of what she learned during her master’s work directly into the classroom.

“BHSU’s graduate program challenged me to be the best I could for my students,” she said.

And Roberts’ students often tell her the difference she has made in their lives, something she said is her greatest accomplishment.

“The bottom line is my greatest accomplishment in teaching is my students’ success in the classroom and out of the classroom.”