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Head Start teacher keeps coming back to classroom despite battle with cancer

The story below, originally written in May 2022, is shared in memory of Rick Robinson, who passed away on November 2, 2022. Mr. Rick loved his job, the children, and the families at Community Progress Council, and we will miss his positive energy and immeasurable impact.

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Rick Robinson left teaching middle and high school to find his true passion teaching at Community Progress Council’s Head Start program.

Rick Robinson has battled cancer multiple times during his 19-year tenure as a Head Start teacher.

Even now, he lives with cancer day in and day out while spending his days connecting with kids at Community Progress Council (CPC) in York. The agency offers an array of services to low-income families throughout York County, including early childhood education programs like Head Start.

Through his personal struggles, Rick keeps coming back because of the remarkable transformation he sees in his students.

“I love the children,” he says. “I enjoy seeing their smiling faces.”


Seeing transformation in his students

He remembers one preschool student, in particular, who would lash out, physically and verbally.

Rick, an ever-calm grandfatherly presence in the busy classroom, took the time to sit with the child, really listen to him, and show him that he cared about what he was saying.

“The struggling kids are the ones I do the best with,” Rick says. “The kids really seem to listen to me well. I treat them like they’re little adults because they like to be treated that way. Kids don’t want to be treated and talked to like a little kid.”

By the time that student left for summer break, the spitting had stopped. He was rarely yelling or hitting anymore. He was able to sit and learn.

“I know I’m making a difference,” Rick says. “I have the privilege to take these little children and help mold them into what hopefully will be a child that will enjoy school.”


A path to personal growth

Before coming to CPC, Rick spent years teaching middle school and high school science and physical education, but he kept feeling a pull toward preschool.

When he discovered what he could do as a floating teacher at CPC Head Start, he found what he was looking for. Rick “floats” between classrooms and buildings during the day to provide help and relief to teachers, allowing him to interact with dozens of children every week. That was nearly two decades ago, and he’s never looked back.

During his tenure at CPC, Rick’s healthcare benefits have helped him get through his cancer treatments while serving his students. He also took advantage of the Tuition Reimbursement program and earned his master’s degree in Multi-Cultural Education in 2016.

Beyond a formal education, he’s found that he has changed how he interacts with his friends and family outside of work.

“Being here and teaching children how to work out their problems, how to calm down, I think that was good for me,” he says. “I’ve become a better person because of this job.”


A career awaits

Join the team at Community Progress Council as a Head Start teacher. A competitive salary, full benefits and generous PTO, and growth opportunities are available. Apply today.












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