47 Years of Mr. Roper

Mr. Richard Roper, a name that strikes fear in students, current 11th grade Honors British Literature and College Counselor, has taught at Malvern for 47 years. These years have come with change and new challenges, but the veteran is not done yet.


Since his early years of attending high school at Monsignor Bonner, Mr. Roper had aspirations of joining the teaching profession and many of his teachers were a big part of his desire to pursue a career in academics. 


“I knew I wanted to be a teacher since ninth grade,” Roper said. “Every year I had teachers that reinforced that desire. They gave me examples of what it would be like, and what I would want to be as a teacher. I also knew that I wanted to teach in this area, and with that came a very difficult task because the area was flooded with teachers in general, English teachers in particular. So all my focus had to be on what I needed to do to get a job around here. Even then, I got really lucky.”


During his first decade at Malvern, beginning in the year of 1976, Roper taught both American and British Literature, ensuring every student would have to take his class at some point. As the number of students at Malvern increased, Mr. Roper chose the role of strictly British Literature.


“I taught British and American Lit for about the first 10 years,” Roper said. “I think pretty much every student had to come through my door. I’m not exactly sure when I took on the British split exclusively. But as needs changed with the number of students rising, I think I was given a choice, I said I think I’d rather do British Lit.”


In addition to all the English instruction, Roper was also the Director of the Theatre Society for many years.


“I was actually hired [at Malvern] for two reasons,” Roper said. “One, they needed an English teacher to replace someone that had to be replaced. And at the same time, Father Duffy, [Former Head of School] and Mr. Stewart [the then Assistant Head of School] wanted to resurrect the theater program here. I expressed a determination and willingness, a strong alacrity to do that and because of those two things, I could bring to the table that’s what got me the job. It was expected, I didn’t just kind of move into the theater role. I was expected to be a part of it.”


Another role Roper took on is within the College counseling department. It was not something he expected to do, but something he has grown to love.


“It was not something I planned on doing when I came to Malvern. For some reason, I was looking for upward mobility because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?” Roper exclaimed. 

“You’re supposed to move up in the hierarchy. And an opportunity presented itself again, partially through Father Duffy and also through Mr. Kenney [Former head of College Counseling] and Mr. Stewart, to add people to our counseling staff. I expressed interest and bought a suit because I thought you’re supposed to dress up more if you’re in counseling. I got a degree in counseling, in general counseling, more personal counseling, not really college counseling. I loved working with the guys and their parents in that important step you have to make.”


Over the last 47 years, Roper has seen many changes. The biggest difference, he feels, has been the size of the student body. This was a positive change because this influx came with a greater willingness to succeed.


“The size of the student body has been the most significant change,” Roper said. “It has probably tripled, maybe quadrupled in size. In my 47 years, that’s been the biggest change. With the student body growing, the intensity of students wanting to learn and the willingness to work hard on my course might be the biggest effect.


When asked about his favorite memory, “it was teaching from the windowsill!” Roper exclaimed. 


“It was in what was Dennis Hall [former building, that sat on what is now the Quad], it might have been my first year because the class was not paying attention as much as I would have liked. I tend to be a little strange in my presentation, to begin with. So when I didn’t sense that I was able to have their attention, I jumped up on the windowsill and did about 35 or 40 minutes from there. I don’t know if it’s true, but apparently, Father Duffy walked by behind me and I didn’t even realize he was there. He probably had a typical grin on his face, thinking, ‘What the heck is Roper doing now?’


Throughout Roper’s last 47 years, he has seen many changes, taught many students, and made many memories. 


As students who have recently finished Roper’s British Literature class, we can confidently say that the first day of class was nothing like the last. When first meeting Roper each student learns that he is very strict and stern. He plays no games in order to set the tone of a focused and efficient atmosphere. As the year goes on, Roper allows each student to get more comfortable, so they can express their thoughts on each piece of British Literature. Each day, after the business (two daily quizzes) was finished, the class came together to dive into the material with open and eager minds, which was something that allowed our relationships with Roper to grow. He wrapped up each term with a final speech, a dreaded assignment. After finishing these speeches, each student was proud that they had worked extremely hard and were able to use the constructive criticism given to them to improve their public speaking skills, something that is very important. 


On a personal note- Although it is hard to comprehend that Roper’s legacy will someday come to an end and he cannot teach forever. We can acknowledge that he is truly a legendary teacher who prepares many students for college work, and I would recommend his class to any students that have the opportunity to take it.