Robert “Marty” Robbins didn’t spend a lot of time playing sports as a kid. However, he was definitely a fan and really enjoyed listening to the announcers on TV and radio.
As a result, Marty began dabbling in a bit of PA work whenever the opportunity arose. Mostly though, he was just having a bit of fun amusing himself and those around him.
“I started fooling around calling the games from the stands when my children played,” Marty said. “Eventually, I began announcing Little League Baseball and then became the voice of Stingers Football.”
Marty’s efforts were well-received. His sense of humor, unique style and dedication to the job made him a fan favorite all over Wayne County.
Then, just a few years ago, Marty landed a job at Western Wayne as a member of the district’s very first School Police Force.
One day he was asked to act as emcee at a pep rally, a gig that led to an invitation to call boys varsity basketball games. Before long, Marty was behind the mike for girls basketball and football too.
“Besides working with the kids in the classrooms and hallways I get my most joy from announcing,” Marty said. “I try to make it fun for all the spectators.”
And while Marty is undoubtedly one of the most popular public address announcers in the Lackawanna League, he’s more than that … so much more.
Setting the Stage
Marty is the son of Alberta and the late Robert Robbins, Honesdale.
He attended Wayne Highlands schools, graduating from HHS in the spring of 1985. Marty was very active in extracurricular activities during his high school years, participating in everything from rifle club and cheerleading to chorus and theatre.
After graduation, Marty enlisted in the US Army where he became a light wheel vehicle mechanic, serving with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
When Marty's hitch was up, he returned to Honesdale and pondered his next move. He worked as an orderly at Wayne Memorial Hospital and seriously considered a career in nursing. However, he eventually decided to become a Pennsylvania State Trooper, entering the Academy in January 1990.
Six months later, Marty graduated and was assigned to the Bethlehem area where he served the citizens of at Dublin and Trevose.
In 1993, he was transferred to Dunmore. After that, there were stints in Susquehanna, Pike and Wayne counties.
Marty was promoted to corporal in 1999 and retired in 2013 after serving a total of 23 years. It’s at this point in the story that Marty arrives on the scene at Western Wayne.
“I joined the newly-formed school district police working with three fellow retired troopers: Paul Semler, Danny Martin, and Wayne Thomas,” he said.
“We all take the safety of our students, faculty and staff very seriously. Each of us brings a different aspect to the table, so to speak, connecting with different students.”
On a typical day, Marty and his fellow officers patrol the parking lot, bus drop and cafeteria. They’re also a constant presence in the hallways and all over the the grounds, working hard to ensure that students, faculty and staff all remain safe.
“The Western Wayne school district is truly a second family,” he said. “Everyone here is involved and invested in the students’ lives. I enjoy being proactive and helping kids in their career development and avoiding trouble.”
Marty and his colleagues are frequently invited into the classroom to speak on a wide range of topics.
Last week, Officer Robbins accepted just such an invitation. This one was extended by RD Wilson Elementary School Counselor Erica Germani, who asked him to come and talk to a large group of students.
Marty happily complied, drawing from his experience as a sports announcer to win over a gym filled with first and fourth graders.
“Officer Robbins had a meaningful discussion with students about his career journey,” Erica said. “He surprised many by saying he got into the profession because he wanted to help people.
“Overall, I feel like he transformed students’ perception of the law enforcement field. He even spoke one-on-one with a student who was upset.”
Marty has a genuine way with children. It’s nothing less than a gift. When he speaks, he’s able to gain their trust, make them relax, and also communicate truly important information.
These traits proved crucial in helping students deal with the disruption caused by COVID.
“Kids in general are very resilient,” he said. “Especially our younger students seem to have adapted well to all the challenging circumstances of the past two years.
“They’re happy just to be back to in-person learning. Judging from the excitement I see, I don’t believe that events of the past two years have slowed them down any.”
Matt Fitzsimmons has been a fixture at Western Wayne for 23 years now.
He grew up in Forest City, but has played many roles during his tenure at Western Wayne including teacher, coach and guidance counselor. It’s in his capacity as a counselor that he helped arrange Officer Robbins’ visit with the RD Wilson students.
“Marty is fully part of the Western Wayne community,” Matt said. “He identifies with the students and they know he truly cares about them. Plus, his announcing at sporting events is the best!”
Paul Gregorski concurs.
Western Wayne’s High School Principal has nothing but praise for Marty’s role in the district.
“Officer Marty Robbins is an integral member of our school community,” Paul said. “He is caring and compassionate individual who truly cares about students.
“He’s also the best PA announcer in the area. We appreciate Officer Robbins everyday, and we thank him for his ongoing service to the students and staff at Western Wayne.”
Germani agrees whole-heartedly.
“Officer Robbins jumped at the opportunity, saying it is one of the favorite parts of his job,” Erica said. “He used his ‘Voice of the Wildcats’ to entertain the children and encourage them to be kind to one another.”
“In a very short visit, Officer Robbins most certainly left a lasting, positive impact on our students. We are so lucky to have him at Western Wayne!”
For his part, Marty believes that the current crop of Western Wayne School Police (Paul Semler, Wayne Thomas, Danny Martin and Sherry Palmer) have the power to make a genuine difference in students’ lives.
“Each one of us works very hard to build relationships with the students and seek ways to improve their experience here at Western Wayne,” he said. “The administration faculty and staff all have been very supportive and know that we are willing to help in anyway possible.”
In addition to all their assigned duties, Marty and his comrades volunteer for food distribution, participate in parades, speak to classes and provide transportation for students when necessary.
“It’s a great job,” Marty said simply.
Over & Out
Marty and his wife, Mary, have been married for 31 years. They are the proud parents of three children and just this past year welcomed their first grandchild into the world.
“My wife and children have always been supportive and understanding of the demands and struggles of my career,” Marty said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”
As for his newfound celebrity as the school’s public address announcer, Marty simply shrugs and smiles.
“It’s actually a little comical when some of the students who don’t know me actually recognize my voice from the sporting events and then put it all together, he said.
Marty always seems to be smiling, but there’s a serious side to his personality as well. And, that’s crucial because working as a State Trooper or a School Police Officer can be a scary proposition at times.
For that reason, and many others he prefers to keep private, Marty is deeply grateful. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t pause and give thanks for all the gifts he’s been given.
“Faith has played a big part in my life,” Marty said. “I believe I have truly been blessed with this career, my amazing family, a great community and the opportunity to work with the children in our schools.”
This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Wayne County Wanderings Kevin Edwards Western Wayne Marty Robbins