Name: Tyler Woodruff
School: Science Leadership Academy at Beeber
Nominated By: Klair McGlynn – Kindergarten Teacher at Shawmont Elementary
At the beginning of each year, Science Leadership Academy (SLA) at Beeber Principal Chris Johnson tells every student to “take the masks off” (not the COVID-reducing kind). That’s because at SLA Beeber, students are encouraged and celebrated for unapologetically being themselves — they do not have to be self-conscious nor do they have to hide who they are. SLA Beeber staff and students also assume the best in people — that we all understand right and wrong, and have a capacity for greatness and positive change. In fact, one of the questions that students have to answer in an admissions interview is, “What problem do you see in the world around you that will work to solve?” Tyler Woodruff is the epitome of this mindset.
Perhaps the best evidence of Tyler’s capacity for good is that his nomination did not come from a teacher or staff member at SLA Beeber. Instead, Tyler was nominated by a kindergarten teacher from Shawmont Elementary School, the school he attended as a youngster. You see, during a year when high schoolers were learning from home, Tyler found himself with a little more flexibility to get outside and run. He runs past his old elementary school every day, and every day he noticed that the Shawmont school yard was lacking in educational and recreational enrichment activities for the students. “I noticed the basketball nets had been torn down, I saw graffiti on the walls that kept coming back,” Tyler remembered. “I think it’s the Eagle Scout in me — I saw something that I could do to help and wanted to find a practical solution.”
Tyler’s matter-of-factness is impressive — he describes his urge to help others as if it’s second nature, like breathing. It’s almost as if he assumes and expects that everyone would do what he did next. Tyler simply (and boldly!) went to the Shawmont principal and asked “What can I do to help?” Armed with answers, a love of working with his hands, and tools to match, Tyler got to work solving a problem for the Shawmont community.
First, he retrieved years and years of recess and P.E. equipment that had been lost over a fence and down a thicket and bramble-covered embankment. Balls, toys, you name it, Tyler salvaged it. He could have stopped there; after all, no-one else had even tried to save that stuff! But he decided to do more. Using some leftover paint from a Scout project, Tyler hand-painted a series of socialized yard games on the schoolyard concrete. These games, intended to simultaneously provide fun and academic enrichment, have enhanced the outdoor experience for Shawmont students and families. “It was a wonderful gesture for the Shawmont family,” said Ms. McGlynn. “It speaks volumes of Tyler’s character and good citizenship. His legacy lives on at Shawmont! Kids actually come after school to play in the yard now…that hasn’t happened in years!”
Tyler is unapologetic in his selflessness, and refuses to be anyone but himself. Luckily for the world around him, Tyler is an other-focused, solution-oriented, caring person, problem solver and citizen — an excellent example to his peers, teachers and younger sister Emma. Tyler plans to take his love of working with his hands and problem-solving to the next level as a student at the University of Pittsburgh next year where he’ll study Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. If anyone can put robots to good use for the benefit of others, it will be Tyler Woodruff.
We had the privilege of chatting with Tyler after he was selected as Senior of the Month. Here’s more of what he had to say:
- What does being named Senior of the Month mean to you? It means a lot. It means that I was able to do something that benefited a whole group of people in a positive way, and I’m happy about that!
- Why do you think you were nominated as Senior of the Month? I try to find ways to help whenever I can. I guess Ms. McGlynn noticed that about me!
- What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you? I love challenges of any kind. I’m not someone who ever backs down from a challenge so if you challenge me to do something new, I’ll probably give it a shot. If you challenge me to a competition, you’re in for a battle.
- What do you enjoy most when you are not at school? I enjoy tinkering and building things with my hands. I also love to run — I go for a run every day. If I really need an escape, I play video games as well.
- What is the best thing about attending school at SLA Beeber? SLA Beeber taught me how to be outgoing. I was a shy, introverted kid before high school, but once I got to SLA Beeber as a freshman I was able to reinvent myself. Those who know me now wouldn’t recognize my 8th grade self. People are just nicer and more accepting (at SLA). I felt enabled to try new things I might have never tried before. Once I got going, you couldn’t stop me!“Tyler found his people at SLA Beeber. They are the nicest, most respectful kids I had ever met,” said Tyler’s mom Joy, a teacher at Taylor Elementary. “It’s a testament to the leadership and culture at the school. That is the kind of school that SLA Beeber is and I wouldn’t send my kids anywhere else.”
- What is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students? Please improve the buildings. Some of the improvements are minor, and I wish the District could prioritize even those minor improvements. I’d like to spend even more time in school than I already do, but I don’t want to feel unsafe when I’m there.
Congratulations Tyler, and good luck at Pitt!