“For Her Life-Long Love Affair with Words, this Writer offers Thanks”
I started Roeper in the mid-sixties, in kindergarten, and on that first day of school, my little heart was filled with fear. Which cubby was mine, again? And where was the bathroom? Oh, how I longed to belong! How I needed to be noticed. Who were all these other children? I missed my warm yellow kitchen. I missed my mama.
But I also remember the moment the little girl sitting beside me silently slipped her hand into mine. In that single, wordless, moment, a fresh friendship bloomed — and my fears began to fall away. What took its place, over the course of my ten years at Roeper, was a growing sense of self-awareness and eventually, with a few bumps and turns along the way, a powerful sense of purpose and determination. At Roeper, I began to grow into the very person I am today. At Roeper, I became me.
So in that Big, Beautiful House on the Hill, a “first friendship” blossomed. Self-awareness sparked. Courage came. My faith grew. And what grew right along with all of this, over the course of my ten years at Roeper, was my lifelong love affair with the written word; an affair that still burns and simmers within me to this very day.
I wrote my very first poem in a treehouse on the main field. I read my very first words on a beautiful, breezy afternoon, as I was about to head for home. And on the day that I wrote one of my first full sentences, I think it might have been overcast; it might even have been raining. No, I don’t remember all of the details – what color dress I was wearing, or what day of the week it was — but I do remember this magical, miraculous place called Roeper was right there at every step of this new journey, shoring me up, surrounding me with love.
And though I’ve had many pivotal “word moments” since, the ones I experienced at Roeper will remain with me always, as will a profound and powerful sense of wonder and lasting gratitude; gratitude that remains alive in my heart, fresh as a daisy, to this very day.
Today, when I think about Roeper, a two-word mantra seems to constantly spring to mind; a mindful mantra that has stayed with me throughout my adult life. Those two, simple words: Thank you.
Many times, during my years in the White House, I remember whispering a quick thank you before walking into the Oval Office for a presidential briefing. After writing a book or even finishing a section or a chapter within one of my books, I’d whisper it again: Thank you.
Today, when I see one of my students get that bright “Aha!” light in their eyes as they absorb a new writing concept, or when I open the newspaper to find my byline or read one of my own stories, I say it again: Thank you.
So to all of my old teachers and old friends at Roeper – those alive and those who are no longer with us — and even to the little girl who took my hand into her own on that frightening first day of kindergarten – I say thank you again.
And to Roeper itself – the school, the institution, this place of peace and refuge that filled me with such a solid sense of belonging and courage at the beginning of my little life and ever since — I say not only, “thank you,” but two more miraculous words as the school celebrates its special 75th commemorative year:
Kristin Clark Taylor ‘74, a former White House communications strategist and the White House Director of Media Relations, is the author of four books published by Random House/Doubleday and Penguin/Berkley. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Washington Times and many others publications. A founding member of the creation and launch team of USA Today, Kristin is also a freelance editor, motivational speaker and writing instructor. She lives just outside of Washington, DC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 703-926-7457, and welcomes any outreach from her Roeper family.