Today, Tarvin fits right in, teaching junior high math at St. Thomas School of Fort Thomas, a school rich in tradition and legacy. He has led the math department for nearly 19 years, creating an advanced math program, and allowing many students to achieve high school math credit while still in middle school.
Tarvin began his teaching career as a substitute teacher in Newport, Kentucky, just one semester after finishing high school. His first full-time position was teaching fourth grade at Cote Brilliante Elementary School. Today, the Kroger at Newport Pavilion sits on the spot where Cote Brilliante once stood.
In his second full year of teaching, while still a junior in college, he was hired to teach Social Studies to fifth and sixth graders at the former AJ Jolly Elementary in California, Kentucky. It wasn’t long after that when he discovered that not only did he have a gift for teaching social studies, but he was also very good at teaching math in a way students could really understand.
So what’s his secret?
According to St. Thomas seventh grade student, Madeline Bruns, it’s “good old-fashioned teaching.”
Despite the technology available in today’s classrooms, Tarvin refers to the chalk and chalkboard as his two “most reliable ancient devices.” The textbooks he chooses are classic, and his methods are consistent & effective.
The proof can be heard from Bruns’ classmate, Audrey Powell.
“I used to hate math and easily became frustrated with the work. Then last year, Mr. Tarvin became my teacher. Now, I’m taking Algebra I and I enjoy it,” says Powell. “I would never have been able to comprehend the idea of liking math if it weren’t for Mr. Tarvin.”
Included in Tarvin’s extensive and impressive resume is not only classroom teaching, but time as principal at Grandview Elementary for two years. He was also Assistant Principal in Madeira, Ohio, JV baseball coach at Dixie Heights High School for 20 of the 25 years and a year in the seminary.
Following his initial retirement from the Kenton County public school system in 1991, he was pastor at All Saints in Cold Spring, St. Paul’s in Oakley, and St. Paul’s in Ohio, before returning to the classroom at St. Thomas in 1999.
Some would say he was born to be a math teacher. That may very well be true because Roger Tarvin was born on March 14, a day commonly referred to as “Pi Day”, because of the date’s reference to pi’s numerical value of 3.14. Students, both current and past, have been known to bring in pies to commemorate the day.
Flamm references a quote from Brainyquotes to describe Mr. Tarvin’s commitment to education, "A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”
A good teacher indeed, who makes math as easy as “pi” for his students.