My Roeper story is about opening myself to new paths.
I remember walking through Roeper’s doors on the first day of the Upper School, wondering what my niche was, since all of my friends seemed to have one. They were actors, science whizzes, and musical prodigies; I was a bespectacled nerd whose finest accomplishments until then had been memorizing Monty Python and the Holy Grail and devouring fantasy fiction by the volume. Climbing the steps to the third floor, the most I expected out of myself was a decent report card. Little did I know that my new homeroom teacher would irrevocably change my life.
George Tysh was a classic hipster, a published poet who had grown up during the wild haze of the Beat Generation. He was like a Kerouac character come to life, complete with snow-white hair, round wire-rims, black clothes, and laid back demeanor. I hadn’t had the chance really get to know him, but I was thrilled to have him as my homeroom teacher. However, it was my experience in his creative writing class that really impacted me.
George, like most Roeper teachers, had a talent for encouraging his students to be who they were. More than that, he helped them discover who they could be. One assignment he gave us was to write a poem based on surrealist photography. I penned off some free verse—since lost to history—that was a ton of fun to write. When George read it, he held it the same respect and scrutiny he would have given to a colleague of his own age; he even showed it to some of his friends. Never had an adult’s praise felt more genuine.
Imagine that there is a room in your house that you have never entered. You don’t know what’s inside, but you’ve never had the courage to open the door. When George encouraged me to continue writing, it was as if the door was suddenly flung open, and inside was everything I didn’t know I had always wanted. From that day forward, I began to grow into myself, and slowly come out of my shell. By the time I graduated, I had read my work in front of the entire school, appeared in theater productions, and became the editor-in-chief of The Muse, Roeper’s upper school literary magazine.
Since leaving Roeper, I attended Kenyon College, where I majored in English and Creative Writing. I have pursued several careers since then: freelance writer, educator, entertainer, and web developer. What I learned at Roeper wasn’t that I was a writer, but that I could be what I wanted to be. George—and the Roeper community as a whole—allowed me to discover who I was, no matter how strange or silly, and to pursue my passions without fear of falling short. To this day, I have never found a place quite like Roeper, and I will always be grateful that I was able to attend.
Noah Heinrich, Class of 2008