This is the third year in a row that the Monroeville Local Schools student is a state handwriting champion. In fact, the district has three: Kindergartner Teddy Ballard, seventh-grader Sophia Yarber and Roeder.
“I’ve made it a goal to be a five-time straight champ,” said the soft-spoken Roeder, the daughter of Jon and Julie.
Ballard is the son of Matt and Nikki. Yarber is the daughter of Wylly and Sarah.
Joan Martalla, Northern Ohio sales representative for Zaner-Bloser, which puts on the national handwriting contest, surprised the three students and their classmates with the announcement during an assembly Friday in the MAC. Martalla said teaching handwriting — known as a “foundation skill” for literacy — has a strong connection to reading comprehensive and improved writing.
Ballard, Roeder and Yarber received a medallion and Zaner-Bloser pen. Their teachers — respectively Gail Rosser, Brandi Goodwin and Amber Whaley — received a diamond-like paper weight and Bob Butler, elementary principal, accepted a $200 gift certificate for Zaner-Bloser products on behalf of the school.
Butler encouraged the other Monroeville students, saying they can do whatever they set out to do.
“This is three years running; that’s awesome,” the principal said.
The contest is open for students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Contestants are judged on size, shape, spacing and slant. Their writing is critiqued by a team of specialists who are independent of Zaner-Bloser, a Columbus-based company.
Rosser, who teaches Ballard, said winning on the state level is impressive because kindergartners are beginning to learn how to write and form letters correctly.
Goodwin, who teaches kindergarten through sixth-grade art and gifted students, considers handwriting a lost art.
“In this age of technology, handwriting is going by the wayside. It doesn’t have the place (in society or education) it used to,” she said.
Yarber shared some tricks to neat handwriting.
“I always try to take my time,” said the seventh-grader, who also believes in starting over and erasing when she makes a mistake.
“Last year, I had a lot of help from Mr. (Eric) Rogers,” she added, referring to a sixth-grade teacher.
Roeder admits the quality of her penmanship can vary.
“Sometimes it can be nicer than others,” she said.
The sixth-grade student was asked one of her techniques for writing well.
“Holding my pencil the right way makes a difference,” she said.