This is the second installment of the Unsung Heroes series that began during the 2018-2019 school year. If you know a student, faculty/staff member, or alumnus who deserves recognition for deeds that positively impact those around them, please let us know by using this survey to nominate. We will use your responses to aid us in shining lights on unsung heroes through articles such as this, which will continue to be published periodically.
Current Theology teacher Sam Roflow graduated from McNicholas High School in 1974. He then attended Xavier University where he majored in Business Administration and minored in Theology and Philosophy. Roflow also played baseball during his time at Xavier. He began a career in business before realizing teaching was his true passion and returned to school to earn his M.A. in Theology from the Athenaeum of Ohio. Roflow has served 33 years as a Catholic educator, 21 of them at McNicholas, and has been married for 39 years to his high school sweetheart, Denise, also from the McNicholas Class of 1974. They have two children: Josh (’04) and Jessica (’05).
McNicholas is well known for its service program, and Roflow is largely responsible for the positive reputation it has in the community. While he did not start it, he “really made it into what it is today,” said fellow Theology teacher, former student, and friend of Roflow’s, David Sandmann.
As many students and faculty members know, Denise Roflow has experienced many difficulties with her health in the past few years. Denise received treatment for a brain tumor she fought in her twenties. As a result, she experiences degenerative neurological and muscular problems. Colleague and friend, Mary-Beth Sandmann said, “I’ve had kids in my classes comment on the example of love that he lives in caring for his wife. He sacrifices a lot to be [with her]; he is with her every minute of every day when he’s not here in this building teaching. It truly is a beautiful example of sacrificial love.”
As the traditional wedding vow states: “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Roflow has, without a doubt, stayed true to his vocation.
Roflow also exemplifies love through his interactions with his students. “He loves the kids here, he really does. He sees what is good in every single student that comes through his doorway. He likes to support the kids. He really believes that we have a school full of really good kids,” Mary Beth Sandmann said.
David Sandmann also expressed great praise for his teacher-turned-colleague. “He’s thoughtful and you can tell he really loves what he does. He really loves being in the classroom. There’s always kids in there, whether it’s asking for advice or they just need a place to go for a little bit. When graduates come back he’s always the one they want to stop by and see and catch up with,” David Sandmann said.
“He cares unconditionally,” math teacher Christine Sennett said. “He gives when it’s a hardship to give, he gives because it’s pure. He’s so sweet and kind. No matter who you are he’ll talk to you and love you. When my husband was terminally ill, he was just a peaceful and kind person to know was always there.”
Colleagues are not the only lives made better for knowing Roflow; students are also abundantly grateful for his presence. Junior Emily Taylor said, “[Mr. Roflow] helps me to be confident and realize that I am important, loved by God, and that I have the power to do amazing things, and I think any of his past or current students could say the same.”
Senior Anna Brail added, “He goes out of his way to make sure everyone is okay and doing well even if he is not.”
Senior Ellie Rudolph said, “He is easily the most selfless man I have ever met. He makes me feel loved and teaches me how to love others. He never judges [anyone], is the best listener and makes McNick feel like home for me.”
As a student who struggled keeping up with her work at certain times during my high-school career, Mr. Roflow never hesitated to help me if I needed it. I had a paper due in Vocations one night, and was struggling to finish it. I confided in my mom for advice about what to do and she told me: “Talk to [Sam] he will understand; he has a heart of gold.”
He has mentioned various times in class that he does not go to bed until midnight in order to get his work done and care for his wife, and yet he still shows up to school every day and teaches with a full heart. It is clear: The love he has for both his real family and his McNick family is abundant.