History teacher Tyler Orf is following his high school dream of teaching. “I decided in high school I wanted to be a teacher. In college it occurred to me that I may want to go after a more lucrative career.” He did a marketing stint with Budweiser for a year before deciding that he wanted to try teaching after all. It didn’t take long for him to recognize that he made the right choice to switch careers. “About a month in to teaching, I was having a really bad day. Then the kids showed up. I mean they showed up. They were lively and energetic and they wanted to talk. My mood changed. There are very few professions where the people who surround you can change your day in such a profound way.”
Tyler’s surroundings have shaped who he is from an early age. He grew up in South St. Louis, attending Saint Gabriel’s parish school and then Saint Louis University High School, and walking to Ted Drewes on a regular basis. “I’m still friends with the same seven guys from my childhood, some since we were five years old. We’ve been in each others’ weddings, we still get together.” The friends played multiple sports together (most on the same team), and they all ended up at SLUH. It’s a diverse group, too. “We’ve got a teacher, a rocket scientist, an FBI agent, an engineer, a banker, a podiatrist, a graphic designer, and a Division One volleyball coach.”
Tyler chose the University of Tulsa for his undergrad after applying to nine different colleges. “It’s a good school, ranked in the top 100 by US News & World Report. It has small class sizes so students don’t get lost in the shuffle, it also has big time sports. The professors are engaged and care more about teaching than research.” Once again, Tyler found himself surrounded by what he needed to thrive.
He modeled his professors’ concept of engagement and care by applying for the Alum Service Corps (ASC), a program that puts Jesuit school alumni in teaching positions while living in community. ASC looks for “men and women with a desire to give back in gratitude for their Jesuit education.” Tyler was accepted into the program and went back to SLUH. “It’s a good program. They give you a place to live, insurance, a shared car, and a small stipend to live on. You have to scavenge for the rest, which makes it interesting.” He spent a year in ASC, teaching freshman history, coaching lacrosse, leading retreats and working with the student council. The experience proved to Tyler that he did want to be in education, and proved once again that where he is, and whom he’s with, matters.
He found a job teaching at a small private school in Memphis. “Because it’s a small school, teachers wear a lot of different hats. I taught many subjects: economics, government, AP classes, world history, American history.” After five years in Memphis, he was ready for a change. He made a lot of friends there, but wanted to do something different. He limited his search to cities where he already had friends, and where he thought life might be more interesting. He found the job posting for a history teacher at Priory, applied and was hired, and moved home. He’s teaching world history to sophomores and English to seniors this term, and will teach freshman world history, philosophy and psychology the next two. He’s also currently assistant coaching the junior varsity football team and will be the head lacrosse coach in the spring.
With an already-established group of friends in St. Louis, it wasn’t hard for Tyler to immediately make his life interesting. In his spare time, he plays indoor soccer and sand volleyball. He likes to attend trivia nights (someone scoop him up for the Priory Trivia Night on October 24!), and enjoys riding his bike and jogging. When he can get away, he likes to hike, ski and travel abroad. Last summer, Tyler traveled to six different countries in Asia and Europe, and he plans to travel to Central and South America next summer to explore Mayan and Inca ruins. Locally, he’s been checking out his new neighborhood of Tower Grove, finding good restaurants, pubs and activities. He also enjoys landscape photography, and just completed his Masters in Secondary Education at Saint Joseph’s University.
Tyler is a huge movie buff, enjoying all genres except horror. “I’m not a big horror movie guy…I don’t really see the point plus I’m a big chicken.” He likes to play movie games with his two brothers and his dad, drawing on his knowledge of old and new movies, dramas, comedies and westerns. He thinks everyone should see Braveheart, Rear Window, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and puts Star Wars near the top of his list (in this ranking: Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, and Return of the Jedi). He even enjoys movies that are so bad, they’re good. “I make people watch Roadhouse, and Top Gun is so terrible and yet so great!”
To welcome Tyler to the Saint Louis Priory School community, discuss what makes Top Gun so great (“You can be my wingman any time!”), or find out which six countries he visited last summer, contact him at ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.