While our buildings still remain closed, our school continues! Thanks to the countless hours our faculty, administrators, and staff continue to put into their work, our Roeper students have regular opportunities to engage with each other, to connect with teachers, and to continue their learning.
These are unsettling times; the global pandemic has impacted every person in our School community in different and immeasurable ways. Some families are experiencing health challenges from the virus that leave them weak and fragile. Others are coping with stress to their mental health from the continued feeling of threat and isolation. And at the same time, others are feeling the economic impact of the stay at home order that has caused the loss of a job, diminished income, or the closing of a business. All that we are experiencing reminds us of the need to stay focused on those things in our lives that are truly important; that which is most meaningful and most precious – family, friends, community.
When we think about a school, most of us tend to focus on the basic attributes of the institution in a very utilitarian way. We consider the academic classes offered, the content and skills that are taught and learned, and the mechanical nature of children moving from grade to grade filling their minds with the required material deemed essential for that moment in their lives. In a basic sense that’s what the majority of schools do, and yet we know that all schools are not the same, most schools do not meet the goal of being necessary and precious to us.
Where does Roeper fit in this discussion? If we have learned anything over these past weeks, it’s that our school is more than a vessel to hold and share content, we are more than a place that simply prepares students for the next academic hoop to jump through. Yes, we have provided academic content, but we’ve also continued to be a place for friends to stay connected, for groups to problem solve, and for families to find some measure of comfort when much around them is in a state of change. George Roeper knew this; he reminded the Roeper Parent Community of this fact back in 1968.
George said, “Let us talk about our tasks. We prepare our youngsters for college. This is a matter of course. But I consider preparation for college as half of our job. We also want to help our students to be amply prepared for this world in a social and human sense. We want our youth to have values, to understand their values, and to help them uphold their values…”
The Roeper community will surely continue to meet the academic needs of our students – this semester, in the fall, and into the future; but all of us continue to see that our school is so much more than a place that prepares students for college. We are a community built on connection and relationships. We are an interdependent network of thoughtful individuals providing care, compassion, and guidance to the next generation of world citizens.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to help us fully appreciate what we have, to fully appreciate all that we do, and to remember the guiding principles that define us. It is easy to conclude that a school is a school is a school; after all, they all seem to teach reading, writing, and math. Yet we know that the connection between teacher and learner is critical, and the care a community provides is what makes the difference.
Roeper families come from more than fifty different zip codes and join together as one community around one philosophy. Between campus and home there are dozens of other schools, but there is only one Roeper. There is only one school committed to a philosophy that teaches our responsibilities to one another and to the world around us. The bond, that connection, it enriches our lives and gives us purpose well beyond the mechanical steps of getting grades and going to college. As the educator John Dewey wrote, “It is more than education, it is life itself.”
My sincere thanks to all the Roeperians out there - current, former, and future - who continue to make the philosophy the living, breathing document that George and Annemarie intended it to be. This world needs us, and this School needs you – together we can make a difference.