Jaela McDonald

Although I am not an alumna of The Roeper School, the five years that I spent at Roeper from sixth to tenth grade have helped to shape me into the young women that I am today. When I first began my journey, I wondered how exactly I ended up at Roeper. Why isn’t there a cafeteria? Why don’t people wear shoes? Call my teachers by their first names? How disrespectful! From the beginning, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. Looking back, I recognize what a privilege it was and is to be a part of the Roeper community. I am grateful for the opportunity that was granted to me through the Mariann Hoag Scholarship.

As someone who is deeply curious, I was able to thrive at Roeper, as it nurtured my curiosity and fostered an environment where I was truly able to explore my interests. Roeper taught me that learning is not limited to books and the classroom, but that I could learn on the field, on the court, during lunch, at Forensics competitions, by taking photographs made out of a Quaker oatmeal container, and anywhere else I sought to travel. While referring to my teachers by their first name was something that I was initially unfamiliar with, I noticed that doing so broke down the wall that existed between teacher and students. There was no longer a superiority complex, but there was a mutual respect for one another. At many points, I was a teacher, and by the same token, at many points, I was a learner.

Roeper embodied the definition of a community. I do not mean that everyone was the same, but rather there were diverse perspectives that allowed me to be confronted with socioeconomic statuses, religious backgrounds, gender presentations, and other identities, that did not mirror my own. Reflecting upon my time at Roeper, there was always a certain quirkiness about it, and it may not be something that I can place, but something that anyone who has experienced Roeper has felt some time before. So to all the Bagel Fridays and Catch Phrase games in Susannah’s homeroom, the Disco schedules, cherry bombs in four square with that red ball, nerdy cheers during sports games, making tea and taking way more mints than I should every morning in the office, getting delayed on the train back from Chicago, Teddy the iguana, the cube keeper with Linda, and all my other adventures, thank you. I’ve made lifelong friends (like Kendra and Yumiko) and I have memories to last me quite some time.

Jaela McDonald, Class of 2014*
Educating and inspiring gifted students to think as individuals and to engage as a community with compassion for each other and this world.

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