Ada Robinson enjoys first day at namesake elementary school

First day of school at Ada Robinson Elementary.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After a two-week delay, school is finally in session at Ada Robinson Elementary School in northeast Lincoln. The namesake, long-time teacher Ada Robinson, was able to attend the first day and was right back in her element.

It was a familiar setting for her. Like many previous first days of school, she spent the day greeting students and doling out hugs. This time though, Ada wasn’t teaching.

Ada greets children in the hall at Ada Robinson Elementary School
Ada greets children in the hall at Ada Robinson Elementary School(Madison Pitsch)

“It is hard to say, I am so happy, I’ve almost been crying,” Ada said. “I just never ever thought being a teacher was a job.”

Robinson taught at Clinton Elementary, just five miles away on Holdrege Street, for 30 years. She student-taught there and was offered a job after her graduation. While there, she taught kindergarten, first, second, third, fifth and sixth grades. She said the youngest children had the biggest impact on her.

“I love the little ones. They were good,” Robinson said during an interview in a bright-yellow, newly-decorated classroom on Monday. “I loved the job... We always said our neighborhood was not any jobs. There was one big happy family. Whatever happened to one family, we’d all gather around and see what we could do to help and stuff like that.”

The Board of Education announced the school would be named after her in April of 2021. In her speech at the meeting she said teaching young children was “the number one thing in her life.”

Robert Eddins, one of Ada’s former students, spoke in support for her that day in 2021. On Monday, he worked as a paraeducator at Robinson.

“Having her as a teacher was more inspirational than I thought it would be. I didn’t figure her impact on my life until decades later,” Robert said. “I wanted to be here because I wanted to be in the hallways, and if somebody asks, ‘Why was this named Ada Robinson Elementary?’ And I wanted to be able to go like ‘I got this. I know the answer’.”

For Ada’s daughter, Tami Soper, being at the opening of Robinson Elementary School was something they could not miss.

“It’s not about having the name on the building. It’s about having the feeling and the people in the place,” Tami said. “So this made it real. Today this made it Robinson Elementary, having the doors open and having children here. That’s what makes it Robinson Elementary.”

Ada and her children exploring the halls at Ada Robinson Elementary School
Ada and her children exploring the halls at Ada Robinson Elementary School(Madison Pitsch)

Ada is 83 years old and has Alzheimer’s. Tami said any moment they can share with their mom is a gift.

“We are thrilled that she gets to be here. And she gets to interact with the children and they get to be a part of making that history and living that history,” Tami said. “It’s bittersweet for us. Given her station in life, we are so proud and humbled and honored to be here honoring her.”