My Roeper Story is about the countless lessons from inspiring teachers.
I started at Roeper in 1968 when I was in 2nd grade. Kathy Doughty was my first teacher. I loved her dearly. I remember that we used to take time out every day and sit quietly at our desks while Miss D. would read out loud to us. She read us Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, Winnie the Pooh and more. She had a different voice for every character. She taught me to love the sounds of words, as well as their many layers of meaning. I am sure it is because of her that I am a poet today.
My mom and my dad both taught art at Roeper, so I always felt especially close to the school. For many years, Roeper was basically an extension of my home. I loved scurrying through the woods and down to the creek with my friends. It seems like we used to spend hours out there. How did we know when it was time to come back to the classroom? I have no idea.
I remember Mr. King, who had us keep journals, and Mrs. Haisch, who was the best typing teacher ever. I remember Mrs. Varner, who taught me about racism. I remember Mrs. Timar, who helped me when I was having a terrible time with math in 5th grade, and Mr. Halsey, who turned algebra into poetry for me.
Then there was Norma Carter, our dance teacher. Norma made dancing something accessible and wonderful. Performing was nothing scary or intimidating. It was a way to share your joy. Thinking back on it now, my years at Roeper taught me to always go for the joy in all things. I cannot think of a time that I was not happy at Roeper. I loved my academic classes, and I loved art with my mom in her airy art room. I loved sitting in the front hall on the stairs near the window (certainly my favorite place on the whole campus), and playing six square in the nursery playground. I have great memories of playing soccer under the guidance of Mike Ruddy. He taught me how to be a good defender and how to stay determined to do right for the team. This sense of valuing teamwork has stuck with me throughout my life.
One of the happiest memories of Roeper was when my dad decided we should bake bread every Thursday after school. A group of us would stay late and make about 20 loaves of bread for Friday’s lunch. We’d have dinner together while the bread was baking. It was a great time.
And summer camp! Oh my goodness. I could write you another 500 words on summer camp. We had such fun at the sleepovers. One time, we staged an invasion of aliens who landed on the Big Dome. Another time, we were on the upper field, and we caught sight of a ghost carrying a candle in the windows of the lunchroom. I remember being as scared as the kids were. Later, as I comforted them, I was also comforting myself.
One of the most important things I learned at Roeper was a deep sense of compassion for others. I remember going to Mother Waddles Soup Kitchen when we were in maybe 5th grade. That was eye-opening for me. George and Annamarie’s dedication to a humanist approach to teaching, learning, and life was a great gift, and it totally shaped the person I am today.
I graduated a year early, in 1977. I was in such a hurry back then. Sometimes I wish I had stayed for one more year. But, I am grateful I got to spend ten years of my young life at Roeper School. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share just a few key memories of my time at this amazing place.
Lisa Vihos, Class of 77