Fred Romaine (’04): Soldier and elementary school teacher
June 3, 2009
Throughout time, serving as an American soldier has been one of the most respected honors among the country’s men and women.
The same holds true today. But for 1st Lt. Fred Romaine (Evangel ’04), who has a military family background dating back to the Revolutionary War, he found his ultimate passion within the four walls of an elementary classroom.
Romaine spent four years in the Army, including a two-year assignment at Camp Doha in Kuwait. Once released, he joined the Reserves and began pursuing an Elementary Education degree at Evangel University.
The calling to teach
“The calling to go into education came at a time just after finishing up active duty service while I was working at a Christian summer camp in Port Jervis, New York,” Romaine says. “At the camp, we served children from inner-city New York who were in the Department of Family Services system. They were either in foster care, adopted, or were from broken homes.”
Romaine says it was his calling to present a godly, well-educated, male role model who young children could follow.
“It’s my mission field,” he says.
As an Evangel student, he was given the opportunity to do a practicum at Robberson Elementary under the supervision of Principal Kevin Huffman, also an Evangel alumnus (’88). Robberson is one of the lowest-income schools in the city, and Romaine found the situation to be similar to working with the children at the New York Christian camp, where he had received his calling to teach.
“I didn’t have much experience working in a classroom, so I searched every possible opportunity to gain as much experience as I could. Most of my practicums only required 30 hours of work, but I probably averaged over 45 hours at Robberson,” Romaine says.
He became an after-school tutor at Robberson and also assisted as the fourth- and fifth-grade basketball coach.
In 2004, Romaine graduated Magna Cum Laude and through the connection he made during his practicum, Romaine was hired to teach at Robberson.
The teacher as missionary
“I found it to be a real blessing serving those children in New York and I saw the need for positive male influences in the lives of those children,” Romaine says. “This is why I love teaching at Robberson. It is as close to that experience as I could find in Southwest Missouri.”
Like many Christian teachers, Romaine has found teaching to be his way of being a missionary.
“I would have to say it has been unique working with so many Evangel alums,” Romaine says. “We all have a common thread running through us and know that this is our mission field — a field that many churches are now seeing as the true American mission field.”
Leaving the classroom and heading to war
It was a tearful day, however, in April 2007 when Romaine learned he would have to trade in the chalk and textbooks he had grown to love and go fight the war in Iraq as a lieutenant in the Missouri National Guard.
Upon returning to the United States a year later, 1st Lt. Romaine was welcomed to a grand homecoming by the Robberson community.
Songs of patriotic sacrifice were sung by the Robberson students, and Huffman shared the good news with Romaine that there was a position teaching third grade waiting for him the next fall.
“It was heart-warming and I was glad to see all the kids again,” Romaine says. “It really made me feel like I was home again for good.”
Since returning, Romaine decided to retire from the Reserves to focus on his teaching and to be with his wife.
Teacher of the Year nominee
Romaine was selected as Robberson Elementary Teacher of the Year recipient, and then went on to become a finalist for the district’s Teacher of the Year honor, in the spring of 2009.
“It was a tremendous honor and I really appreciated the nomination,” Romaine says. “It definitely supersedes some of the recognitions I received during my military service.”