Bob Trover shares that he has a unique lens into the lives of Meridian’s youth. Bob is a retired teacher, principal, and superintendent who spends time with Meridian’s youth as they learn to drive an automobile. Upon retiring from education several years ago, he and his wife began to travel to Meridian to teach part-time. While his wife teaches English, he acts as the driver’s education instructor, spending one hour per day in the classroom and another three in the car.
Open Your Mind to Opportunity
“I get to know the kids,” shares Bob, adding, “I don’t get to see them in the classroom or a group setting. But I get them out of the school environment, two or three in the car at a time. So, I get to know them and understand that they’re just as good as any kids anywhere.”
A lifelong educator, Bob graduated from Greenville College in 1978 and began his career in education immediately after that. He spent his decade at Vienna High School. Despite their lack of a full-time opening, he substitute taught while coaching baseball and basketball. He made a strong impression and accepted an open position as a physical education instructor the following school year.
Eventually, Bob furthered his education, first obtaining his principalship specialty through Eastern Illinois University and eventually his master’s degree in Education from SIU-Carbondale.
Bob eventually became the Superintendent/Principal at Tamaroa Elementary and retired after nine years. Unable to accept the leisurely side of retired life, Bob spent another five years as Tamaroa’s interim principal before helping out at Vienna Grade School.
Bob and his wife both accepted part-time positions at Meridian four years ago, wanting something steady. This marks his fourth year at Meridian, a move Bob admits confuses some of his friends.
“We enjoy it. Everybody thinks we’re crazy. They say, why don’t you do other things? Travel and do this or do that. My response is we’re doing what we want to do. We’ll quit when it stops being fun or gets in the way of doing other things we want to do. We don’t have to do it. We do it because we enjoy it,” says Bob.
Bob values an open mind, sharing that he wishes he’d realized the value and importance at a younger age. “Somehow, someway you must open your mind. Just open your mind to possibilities. I grew up in the country, in a small little area. We were pretty closed-minded. Even at school at the time, I don’t think we were closed-minded but narrow-minded. But you must open your mind. Get your mind open to the possibilities out there, all over the place.”
While Bob admits that while the Meridian district is short, many things that many other districts take for granted, what he stresses they do have is great kids. “I see so many good things in the kids.” Ultimately, he hopes kids find a passion they can take into adulthood. “Our job is to provide hope and vision for these kids, to show them you can do what you want.”
Despite the confusion of his friends, Bob finds fulfillment behind the wheel of a car, teaching the children of Meridian to drive. He doesn’t just use the time to teach the rules of the road. Still, Bob uses the intimate atmosphere of the car to be open to learning the children of Meridian’s stories. He hears them share their struggles but also sees their unlimited potential. And with a mind opened by hope and vision, he hopes they see the same potential that he does.