Teacher Feature: Mr. Rigby


Mr. Robert Rigby is a Latin teacher here at West Po. Back in in-person school, he would often be seen sharing a laugh with his students and fellow teachers and holding a Big Gulp, which he drinks out of his lifelong love for soda.

Rigby has been a teacher since 1983 and has been teaching at West Potomac since 2007. As a college student, he got a job as a summer camp cook for a program with students with behavioral problems and fell in love with it. “I learned how minds work. I went to study groups. I learned how learning worked,” he said.  “Well, let me go work with kids. That’s what I wanted to do with my life.” After talking with school psychologists, social workers, and teachers, he discovered that teachers get to spend the most time with their students and they are the ones who see students when they are being most successful. He also mentions that he was a farmer for a while, went to med school for a year, and even considered being a math teacher.

When asked why he chose Latin as what he wanted to teach he said, “Back when I was 13, they had Latin as an elective at my school. I thought, ‘This is really ancient and arcane and no one knows anything about this, let me study it.’ So I really took to Latin, I learned it in high school and college.” Rigby has kept in touch with the Latin community, even back during his career with special education. “So when it came time to move away from special education, the Latin teachers in this area wanted me to come and teach Latin.” He also explains that he chose Latin because he finds ancient cultures fascinating, saying, “they are a window into modern cultures”. He is currently studying how racism, classism, and sexism exist in the ancient world and what they can tell us about the modern world. “I’m slowly trying to bring this up in my teaching,” he says.

Rigby’s favorite thing about teaching is looking at his student’s writings, “I enjoy both the factual writing and creative writing,” he says. “You’d think I love the grammar, but what’s new is the student’s projects and writing.” His least favorite thing about teaching is grading, explaining, “I hate the whole system of grading, that you do work and I evaluate it and I give you a number and you’re judged on that. I wish we didn’t have to have all this judgement and that we could just learn and do things because we enjoy them.”

Outside of school, Rigby likes to catch up on his sleep as well as partaking in walking, hiking, and camping. He is also involved in LGBTQ activism, which is important to him. “I am a founder and co-president of the LGBTQ group for parents, guardians, and teachers in Fairfax County. We do a lot of advocating and introducing people to one another and helping people with problems.” 

Overall, Rigby is really glad to be teaching at West Potomac and is proud of its students and faculty. “I think we’ve [West Po] got a lot of students who work hard and I think we’ve got a really diverse student body that works hard to get along with one another.” He proudly states, “It’s not just a job. Not only did I take the job at West Potomac, but I like West Potomac and I stayed at West Potomac for 14 years because I’m proud of West Potomac.”