As a U.S. Army captain, Eric Roloff has been all around the world.
He’s visited 42 U.S. states. In Norway, he followed wolf tracks in the snow. He spent two tours in Germany, where his daughter, Erica, was born.
But in July, Roloff will visit a place he’s never been: the Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.
I haven’t been to the east coast since ‘97. I’m looking forward to it.
Eric Roloff, teacher at All Saints Catholic School
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“I haven’t been to the East Coast since ‘97,” said the Puyallup resident. “I’m looking forward to it.”
It’s all thanks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), an American veterans organization. The VFW chose Roloff as its 2017 Washington State Teacher of the Year.
Each year, teachers are nominated at the post level. Paul Herrera with Puyallup VFW Post 2224 nominated Roloff, who teaches sixth through eighth grades at All Saints Catholic School in Puyallup. Roloff is also an officer at Post 2224.
Roloff was selected at the VFW post level, then the district level and finally the state level.
“I was elated,” said Roloff, 50. “I didn’t dream that I’d be selected at the state level.”
My first profession took me throughout the world. Wherever we’d go, we’d stop and see the most important sites.
“We are very proud of him being selected and feel he is very deserving,” VFW member Larry Heires said on behalf of the post.
While Roloff has taught at All Saints for six years, he didn’t always know he wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until after his journey in the service ended at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2000 that he had to decide his next step.
“My first profession took me throughout the world,” Roloff said. “Wherever we’d go, we’d stop and see the most important sites.”
Linda, Roloff’s wife of 11 years, suggested he become a teacher.
“My wife said, ‘You were always a trainer in the service — you’d be great as an instructor,’” said Roloff. “When she believes in me, I go boldly.”
Roloff went to school for his master’s degree in elementary education, then taught in the public sector for two years before starting at All Saints.
“This is my faith,” Roloff said. “I wanted to come to a location where I felt I could make a difference.”
In the classroom, Roloff instructs students in social studies and history, English and religion. When he can, he tells students about his personal experiences traveling the world.
He hopes he can do the same when he returns from his trip to the Valley Forge this summer. The VFW selects teachers for the trip, and to attend a class called “Building character in youth through the study of biography of American heroes and heroines.”
It’s something he wants to share with his students.
“How can we inspire these young kids to want to be like these Americans?” Roloff said. “I’ll be able to bring that material directly into the classroom.”