Warriors You Should Know – AJ Ruopoli

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope that the time away (or without students for those who did not have last week off) has refreshed your spirit, mind, and energy. For those who are counting, there are only 41 days left and just 10 more Mondays counting today. YOU CAN DO IT! I received a lot of compliments about the new “Warriors You Should Know” posts and I am glad that everyone seems to be enjoying it. I took last week off for Spring Break, but now it is time to introduce our next “Warrior You Should Know”.

AJ Ruopoli is an educator in the Math department. He teaches Algebra 2 Essentials, Calculus AB, and Calculus III. This is AJ’s 13th year teaching and 17th year at Waubonsie Valley! Yes, the “math” doesn’t seem to add up on this one, so you will just have to read the rest of this post and AJ’s responses to my questions to find out why.

Where did you go to college?
I went to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, Go Thunder!

Why did you get into education?
At Wheaton students are encouraged to serve in the Chicagoland community so I joined up with a group of students who were tutoring in West Lawn. The program opened my eyes to the need for education. These children were attending schools where they had no expectation for success. One junior girl I worked with still didn’t know how to write her alphabet correctly. When I asked her why she wrote her r’s backwards she said that is how she always did it and no one ever complained about it. I spent the next two years working with the organization in West Lawn, found a passion for teaching, and never looked back!

What is your favorite Warrior Memory?
I loved being a student here. I had an amazing time and learned so much but my favorite memory was probably when some of my friends from high school started to work here as teachers. Liz Fay and Stacy Rivera were some of my favorite people in high school and continue to be today.

Favorite childhood teacher and why?
Sorry to all the teachers that I had here as a student but my favorite teacher is hands down Mrs. Roderique. She challenged me to be a better student and grow more mathematically than anyone before or since. She is a gifted educator and I will miss her dearly next year.

Where do you get inspiration from?
For sure the students. Without them this job would be terrible. They may sometimes be the thorn in my side but they make me smile every single day. The other teachers in my department are also amazing. I am so blessed that I get to work along side some of the most talented teachers in the world. Secondly, I would be remiss to not mention both Mr. Butts and Mrs. Roderique who not only gave me a great mathematical foundation when I was a student but also were a great source of help to me when I first started teaching. Also, the rest of the staff here at WVHS is amazing. From the deans, to the counselors, to the administration, and custodial staff. Everyone here is working to ensure that this is an amazing place to learn.

Is there a student that you will never forget? .
There are a lot of amazing students at WVHS. Sometimes I forget that. Graduation is always an amazing reminder of all of the amazing kids we teach. I cannot begin to say how many times I watch kids walk across the stage and think that kid is awesome, and so is that kid, and that one. But I can think of several kids who just enjoyed being at school and learning and that is always so encouraging to me and warms my heart.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
When I was student teaching I was living at home with my parents and I forgot my lunch. It wasn’t a big deal and I figured I would just buy lunch, but my father showed up at my school to drop off my lunch and the administration allowed him to come to my room and drop it off personally. He walked into my class and said, “Hi, I am Tony Ruopoli and this is my son’s lunch.” My students looked at him and then at me and then immediately started to laugh.

Favorite book? Favorite Song/Artist? Favorite Food?
My favorite book is Of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. My favorite song is pretty much the whole musical of Les Miserables (I probably shouldn’t admit to that). My favorite food is definitely sushi. All seafood is so good.

When not at school, where do you like to spend your time or what do you like to do? Do you have any special talents?
I liked to spend my free time fishing. It is my favorite outdoors activity. As for special talents, few people know that I can hold my hands together and bring my arms full circle around my body. It has gotten harder as I have grow older but I can still do it.

What are your future goals?
I want to stay at WVHS as long as I can. I want to be an amazing educator. As for what the future holds, I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up.

Who do you live with? Spouse, kids, pets, etc.
I live with my wife Stephanie and my sons Ethan (7) and Levi (4)

If your department had to vote you, “most likely to…”, what would they vote you?
Most likely to tell break out in song.


Be sure to say hi the next time you see AJ and maybe even ask him to show you his special talent! Come back again next week to find out about our next “Warrior You Should Know”.

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