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Keeping In Touch


Dear Friends, Fall is turning to winter, and we’re headed into the busy holiday season. Since our fiscal year runs from July to June, that also means that the mid-point for the 2013 Annual Fund is almost here. I want to take this opportunity to say how grateful we are for all the support our community has given this year. For those of you who have not yet taken the opportunity to give, we encourage you to consider doing so, at whatever level you feel comfortable. Not only is it good to give, but it’s also easy to give! Simply go to to access our secure donation form. In addition, our website has information about other ways to give such as planned giving, gifts of stock and possible corporate matching. No matter how you do it or what level you choose, your support of our school and your help in sustaining our mission is so important and so appreciated. If you are mindful of the tax implications of your donation for this calendar year, please be sure that anything sent by mail is delivered to our office by December 28, 2013. Online donations can be made until midnight December 31. Warmest regards and best wishes,

Adam Smock Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Fund 248.203.7314


TABLE OF CONTENTS David Feldman Head of School Denita Banks-Sims Director of Development Keeping in Touch Editorial Committee Katie Buchmann Editor Bonnie Schemm Art Director Contributors Denita Banks-Sims Alison Ernst David Feldman Karen Johnson Godfrey Nolan Laura Panek Carmen Pianko Mike Ruddy Marcia Ruff Adam Smock Lily Zhu

The Roeper School 41190 Woodward Avenue Bloomfield Hills Michigan 48304 248/203.7300

Features GLOBAL LEARNING . . . . . David Feldman, Head of School












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RESEARCH, CRITICAL THINKING AND GLOBAL PROBLEM SOLVING . Alison Ernst, Middle/Upper School Librarian Carmen Pianko, Lower School Media Specialist


INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY INTO TEACHING . Laura Panek, Teacher – Upper School Biology









outside the walls of roeper . . . . . . . . Karen Johnson, Teacher – Middle/Upper School Latin Lily Zhu, Teacher – Middle/Upper School Chinese Mike Ruddy, Teacher – Middle/Upper Social Studies







THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Godfrey Nolan, Parent INTRODUCING ADAM SMOCK . . . . . . . . . . . Adam Smock ’87, Director – Alumni Relations and Annual Fund PARTING THOUGHTS . . . . . . . . Denita Banks-Sims, Director of Development











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The Roeper School is an independent coeducational day school for gifted and talented children preschool through grade 12 and an equal-opportunity institution



David Feldman Head of School


Several years ago I was fortunate to head a school that developed a partnership with a school in Changsha, China. The Yali Middle School was a small day and boarding school of just over 10,000 students. Located in south-central China, the campuses were on two sites, and students from around the province worked very hard to be selected for admission into this prestigious school. Spending two weeks in Changsha with a group of 9th graders, my colleagues and I had the chance to immerse ourselves in the culture and daily routines of the community. We discovered the students’ deep love for basketball, incredible commitment to their studies, their desire to want to practice their English, and how excited they were to share their lives, interests and culture. Traveling around the city, touring the sites of this small urban town of six million, I was stunned at how little I knew about China, Asian history, and all that was happening in this country of more than one billion people. As someone who fancied himself as a student of history, I quickly discovered how western-centric my life was, and how little I really knew about so large a portion of the world. The experience was both humbling and exhilarating. Driving through the old walled city I noticed that city planners had inserted roundabouts to keep traffic moving, and there wasn’t a single traffic light to be seen. Cars and bicycles shared the roads as continuously moving traffic passed skyscrapers being built next to small peasant collectives. I felt like I was watching the industrial revolution happen in front of my face in the three short blocks I walked from my hotel to the school. The experience of travel changes one’s perspective on life; the opportunity to be immersed in an environment that is unfamiliar creates a global point of view and helps us better understand our mutual responsibility to one another. The students


and teachers at Yali had the same hopes and dreams for their families that I had for mine, and yet so much felt different; so much was unfamiliar. Watching this amazing experience through the perspective of my 9th grade students was also quite revealing. As a whole, the group had been away from home for extended periods of time to attend summer camp, regional trips with classmates and friends, and was generally a fairly independent group. When given time to video conference to our home school, the realization of the immense literal distance from family and home became real to the students, and home sickness permeated the conversations. It’s interesting to see independent people confront new challenges and problem solve with each other. The group decided they needed a dose of what was familiar, and that night we went to dinner at a local McDonald’s to re-ground them in the known. Clearly, one does not need to travel around the world to develop a global perspective; studying a language and a different culture, developing projects and programs within the classroom, as

David Feldman, Head of School, poses with Chinese language students (L to R) Trace Sheerin, Ethan Silk, Peyton Kinchen, Riley Joliet, Serena Newberry, Teacher Lily Zhu and Aaron Baker.

It is all too simple to live a life in a neighborhood surrounded by what is familiar …

well as service learning initiatives in the local community, can provide the foundations for global learning. What is important is to be stretched, to extend ourselves beyond the familiar and comfortable and to learn about one another.

The Roeper philosophy asks us to step out of our comfort zone, to understand that we are an interdependent part of something much bigger.

It is all too simple to live a life in a neighborhood surrounded by what is familiar and never venture out beyond the safe boundaries of the known; to never hear a different language, to never experience the religious practices of another group, to never try different foods, see different clothing, live a different socio-economic lifestyle, or live under different political beliefs. The Roeper philosophy asks us to step out of our comfort zone, to understand that we are an interdependent part of something much bigger. A global point of view is an open mindset, an understanding that more exists for us to experience beyond the physical and mental boundaries we create for ourselves. Whether you physically leave your current comfort zone, or use research, personal relationships or the Internet to start your journey, it all begins with an open mind and the understanding that we are part of something larger than what we know. F



Marcia Ruff

School Historian

THE GLOBAL HERITAGE OF THE ROEPER SCHOOL “I am a citizen of the world.”

This is a surprisingly familiar line at Roeper, considering that George didn’t even say it until 1984, several years after he had retired, at a last-day assembly. He said it in the midst of the Reagan administration when talk about “the Soviet menace” and the possibility of nuclear war was everywhere. George commented on the accompanying waves of patriotism, in which people were declaring that they were “American” citizens, or “Soviet” citizens. George, on the other hand, declared his global allegiance. Despite only being delivered once, the line resonates because it was so clearly a part of their whole lives. For George and Annemarie, a sense of themselves as global citizens was fundamental to their sense of self and their vision for the school. They believed that human beings have two primary tasks in life — to come to understand who we are — our passions, our strengths, our limitations, our own individual quirks — and to find a way to be engaged and happy in the world, contributing to it in a meaningful way and leaving it in a better place than we found it. Not unreasonably, they thought that if those drives are fundamental to being human, they ought to be fundamental to education. In Annemarie’s words, “The growing child has one overarching task which determines all his behaviors, actions and reactions: to make cognitive, emotional and physical sense of this world, and to find a place in it which will accommodate his unique self, his own inner agenda.” All the things we think of as education — curriculum, knowledge, skills, social and emotional learning — are the tools we acquire to successfully fulfill our drives to know ourselves and be engaged in the world. They are not the ends in themselves — they are tools in service to those needs. George and Annemarie called their approach to life and education a philosophy of SelfActualization and Interdependence. To be truly happy, we need to be who we are meant to be, and we come to that understanding through our interconnectedness with the world around us. That interconnectedness is inescapable — which for the neurotics and/or introverts among us can be a


horrifying thought — but also something that can bring us great joy. Again, in Annemarie’s words, “The concept of interdependence says that we can only survive if we understand that we depend on each other. It means realizing that there is not one cause and effect but many, that every action has many reactions, and that our past, present and future, our thoughts and actions are all interdependent with every facet of the world around us.” George and Annemarie always thought of that interconnectedness in global terms. They were Europeans by birth, always more aware of the nations around them than we ocean-bounded Americans. But they also thought globally because of their families and the milieu they grew up in. George’s parents ranged widely across the globe. His mother, Anna, was born in China because her father was a ship captain whose wife sailed with him, and they were in China when Anna came. His father, George P., sold the German business he inherited in order to start his own international steel brokering business. As a supplier to the Trans-Siberian Railway project, he moved his family to Kobe, Japan, where our George spent the first years of his life. Annemarie’s parents, Max and Gertrud Bondy, were idealistic reformers and educators born in Hamburg and Prague, respectively, at the end of the 19th century. They came of age in that period of immense power and wealth just before the First World War and were full of ambition to fix all the things the older generation was doing wrong. Max was prominent in the German Youth Movement, which was advocating for young people’s right to make their own choices in life, based on their own desires — a fierce challenge to the prevailing German culture of obedience. Gertrud was studying medicine, one of the first women to be doing so, and also studying psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud.


For George and Annemarie, a sense of themselves as global citizens was fundamental to their sense of self and their vision for the school.

Then WWI broke out. Max and Gertrud’s response to the resulting devastation and social disruption Annemarie’s parents, Max & Gertrud Bondy

Schule Marienau, the German school founded by the Bondy Family.

Max [Bondy]’s desire was to create a new kind of thinker. As he described it, the world didn’t need more people who thought and acted with the herd, but neither did it need independent thinkers who were isolated from others. He wanted to educate children to become people who could “think for themselves but feel with the community.”

was to turn to education, to try to teach the next generation in a way that would lead them to create a better world. In 1920 they joined the ranks of other progressive educators, such as Rudolf Steiner, A.S. Neill, Paul Geheeb, and John Dewey, in developing new philosophies to educate children to become more humane adults. Max and Gertrud were eventually able to open the boarding school of their dreams on a farm named Marienau outside Hamburg. Marienau was a democratic community in which the adults and students shared responsibility for decision-making and chores. It was co-educational, intellectually cutting-edge as they studied Bauhaus, Kafka and jazz, and full of art — dance, theatre and music. Students and teachers went rambling for miles over the fields of heather, philosophizing about the world and everything in it. Max’s desire was to create a new kind of thinker. As he described it, the world didn’t need more people who thought and acted with the herd, but neither did it need independent thinkers who were isolated from others. He wanted to educate children to become people who could “think for themselves but feel with the community.” For her part, Gertrud wanted to use Freud’s theories less as therapy than as a way to raise children so they were happy, well-balanced and non-aggressive. As she put it, “Our main task is to help children know themselves and find a right way of living. And the main part of my work is to give young people a feeling of security and of being accepted as a person. ” It was the opposite in every way of mainstream German education. This was the idyllic world Annemarie was born to and that George joined as a student. This idyll came to an end in the 1930s with the rise of Nazism. The Bondys were Jewish by heritage, although they had converted to Lutheranism in 1924. They were compelled to give up their school and fled first to Switzerland and then, in 1939, to the U.S. This was a stunning disruption for the Bondys, but they were luckier than many, largely because of their network of friends. George, who was Annemarie’s fiancé by then and not Jewish himself, was able to get them passports that

didn’t indicate they were Jewish. This was a tremendous advantage in being admitted to other countries, which limited the numbers of Jews they would accept. Friends in the progressive education community found them a school to run in Switzerland. Colleagues of Gertrud’s in the psychoanalytic community found them sponsorship to come to the US. All their lives, they were part of an international community of intellectuals, artists, psychoanalysts, educators, journalists and reformers — ­ all concerned with the state of the world and active in their spheres to make things better. Once in the U.S., Max and Gertrud opened another school, with George and Annemarie’s help. I have always been touched by their list of objectives for their students in the 1940 catalogue: “A positive attitude toward life, recognition of the dignity, rights and needs of one’s fellow men, patience born of an understanding of the complexity of modern problems, knowledge and emotional acceptance of one’s own potentialities and limitations, are among the character ideals of the Windsor Mountain School. To prepare our students for an active and positive role in our rapidly changing social world, we strive to develop in them an inner security and capacity for adjustment so that they may retain their courage and individuality regardless of changes in their material and social position.” I think about those last words in light of their experience of watching a civilized nation lose its moorings in a matter of months after the Nazis came to power. What those words say about their awareness of the precariousness of life. How factors that seem far removed from you can still upend your life. How far Max and Gertrud had come from their early days of confident privilege, and how much intellectual and emotional strength and resilience they had. In 1941, George and Annemarie were invited to come to Detroit. Annemarie was going to be the director of a psychoanalytically oriented nursery


school, and George started an elementary school. They were very young, especially Annemarie who was barely 23, and George was only 31. They were quickly successful, because although they were young and rather inexperienced, they were steeped in this clear and appealing educational approach. Although the term Self-Actualization and Interdependence was theirs, the concept was the same as the Bondys’ approach. As Annemarie and George developed their school, they made decisions about the structure of the school based on the kind of person they wanted their students to become: confident, self-aware, compassionate and engaged. First they wanted a strong, diverse, democratic community. They were appalled by the racism they found in America and planned to integrate their school from the beginning but were advised to hold off until they secured their citizenship. But in the early 1950s, their school became the first integrated independent school in Michigan. They sought students of all economic levels, religions, ethnicities and experiences, and structured the school day and components so that there was time and space to listen to each other and get to know each other. An environment of emotional safety was fundamental, so children could feel free to be who they were, because how can you figure out who you are if you disguise yourself all the time? As one Roeper student, senior Sammiey Johnson, describes it, “Roeper lets me be who I want to be until I’m able to figure out who I am.” Mutual respect was key. They sought out teachers who were truly interested in honest, nonhierarchical relationships with students, so that the students can learn from their teachers’ experiences and feel free to truly share their own. Authentic choices for students about what they study and how they approach it — even to the point of letting them fail — so that they can truly own their education and let their own interests inform it was another central element. Annemarie began offering Free Choice at the Kindergarten level back in the ‘50s, in which children chose


which class they would go to for one block, so they could begin to experience what it feels like to make a decision and feel the consequences. Diverse academic, social and cultural opportunities would allow students to explore and discover what excites them — and what leaves them cold. Also, George and Annemarie sought a curriculum that emphasized the interconnectedness of events and people, with a global perspective. Most fundamental was a respect for emotional development, with a pace that allows the time and space and ability to respond to children, whether that’s a meltdown or a withdrawal or something more difficult to discern. This commitment to the primacy of the emotions led to the school’s conversion to a school for the gifted. In the 1950s, as the US became more interested in identifying gifted children as part of talent development to win the Cold War, George and Annemarie became concerned that society’s lack of knowledge about gifted children’s emotional development might mean that gifted children would be educated badly, blighting their ability to fulfill their own potential and losing their gifts to the larger society. So in 1956, they redesigned the school’s program and became only the second elementary school in the country to be exclusively devoted to gifted education. George and Annemarie lived globally, and thought globally. But it was supremely important to them that people realize that the ability and desire to participate fully and meaningfully in the world begins with a sturdy sense of Self. In her graduation address to the Roeper Class of 2007, Annemarie said, “If your Roeper education has led you to love yourself, and with that to love your community and your world, then you will be fulfilling the task that we’ve been hoping for.” “And with that to love your community and your world ….” You cannot love the world unless you love yourself. Whatever diminishes our ability to value ourselves, diminishes our ability to value others. F

Annemarie and George, circa 1946, in the office of their new school in Bloomfield Hills.

George and Annemarie lived globally, and thought globally. But it was supremely important to them that people realize that the ability and desire to participate fully and meaningfully in that world begins with a sturdy sense of Self.



Middle/Upper School Librarian


Lower School Media Specialist

RESEARCH, CRITICAL THINKING AND GLOBAL PROBLEM SOLVING IN MIDDLE/UPPER SCHOOL by Alison Ernst A Roeper education provides opportunities for gifted children to discover and fulfill their potential, and prepares them for a constantly changing world. The Roeper libraries and librarians are interdisciplinary partners in this educational effort, providing the places, programs and portals for young people to become self-directed learners.


… critical thinking and literacy skills are more important than ever in this era of globalization and information glut.

Despite how transmission of stories and information changes over decades and eons, literacy and critical thinking are immutable essentials for self-directed learners. The following is a personal story about technological change and the constancy of the learning process. I wrote papers using an electric typewriter when I started college in the early 1980s. Using lots of white-out and/or erasable paper for academic efforts made mishaps and revisions a bit more bearable. Keeping track of sources and citations was laborious by today’s standards. Research meant exploring the physical holdings of monographs, periodicals and archival materials in the five-college consortium libraries (Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, UMASS, and my alma mater, Hampshire). The strong collections of the venerable Northampton and Amherst public libraries (The Forbes and The Jones, respectively) were also useful for local students. By my last year as an undergraduate, I was writing, revising and spell-checking projects on a desktop computer. My research required spending countless hours on the five-college bus between campuses, scouring the consortium libraries for relevant resources, and making pounds of Xerox copies of journal articles. Two years later in graduate school for Library Science, I tried out the new database services that allowed users to search for journal citations. Using these databases required detailed knowledge of Boolean searching. Search results appeared in green blocky letters on a black screen. One of my professors was doing pioneering work with hypertext at the beginning of that last decade of the 20th century.

Fast forward to today, and the landscape of information access is vastly different. Hyperlinks are a given. Cell phones have more computing power than the Apollo 11 moon landing. Thanks to Wi-Fi and Internet, in a matter of minutes I can confirm via several sources the verity of the Apollo 11 statement. I don’t need to use complex Boolean searching formulas to locate credible sources either. A few years ago I completed a second Masters, doing research using a laptop and Wi-Fi in my living room, finding online articles from a college library in Boston, more than 100 miles away. The click of a virtual button generated complete citations in whichever style I needed/wanted (MLA, Chicago, APA). This was a far cry from the manual methods of decades before, which included fretting over the proper location of commas and periods in footnotes and bibliographies. Though technology tools, access points and information formats continue to change, basic proficiencies are necessary. These include a person’s ability to engage in research, to locate information, to determine usefulness and credibility of resources, to cite sources, and to then communicate findings and/or reflections, speculations, opinions, et al. These are life skills for the 21st century. They are identified in both the classical and contemporary definitions of a liberal arts education: preparing a person to be a thoughtful, knowledgeable, active and articulate member of a free society. The ability to think critically was and is a key component. In my opinion, critical thinking and literacy skills are more important than ever in this era of globalization and information glut. Libraries (academic, public and school) are essential facilitators of equitable access to life-long learning. A 21st century library is much more than a building or room full of print books. It is both a physical and virtual entity, an educational community space for individual and collaborative exploration, as well as an access point to content. The role of librarian includes teaching/coaching multiple literacy skills and research strategies, curating print and digital collections, and providing pathways to resources beyond the building.


The place, program and portal of Roeper’s Birmingham campus library is in progress. Though the current physical space is quite confined, the potential for the program and portal parts of the library are unlimited. The purpose of program and portal development is empowering Roeper students to become effective researchers, able to find and evaluate relevant resources for their academic, artistic and personal interests. Information literacy and critical thinking skills are essential for thoughtful global citizens. Becoming thoughtful global citizens is what we hope for our gifted Roeper students.

IN LOWER SCHOOL by Carmen Pianko Two years ago, Stage IV formed a Friends of the Library group that adopted a leadership role within the newly built Children’s Library. Among their projects was to plan and host a fundraiser that they called Books & Play, which included a used book sale, carnival games and refreshments. The idea to plan a fundraiser came, in this case, before the students had a particular cause in mind. They worked in small groups to identify worthy causes and eventually came upon a campaign entitled, “Where Would You Be Without Your Library?” run by the M.N. Spear Memorial Library, a teenytiny library in Massachusetts that was working on raising the money for a much-needed remodel and expansion. The name of this campaign has been running through my head lately, as students flocked to the library even before school had officially begun this academic year. A regular assortment of readers, wonderers and creators see The Children’s Library as their second at-school home, which makes for a delighted librarian! In working with students throughout the Lower School, I have the opportunity, in partnership with my colleagues, to nurture our gifted students’ curiosities about practically everything. We encourage their sense of wonder, but also work with them to develop a plethora of other skills necessary for grappling with real-world issues in an effective way, including literacy skills for accessing information in a variety of formats, the ability to think critically about information and ideas, and


the creativity to approach questions and problems in innovative ways. One “wonderful” feature that has appeared in several Stage I homerooms is the Wonder Wall, a bulletin board where the wonderings of learners are posted for all to read and reflect upon. Recent wonderings included questions about why it doesn’t always thunder when it rains, and why we can’t bring dinosaurs back to life. As anyone who has spent time in a Roeper classroom knows, questions are in abundance; just as importantly, questions are valued here. Having one’s question added to a Wonder Wall or adopted as a topic of inquiry gives our students the clear message that their interests and curiosities are of importance and are worth pursuing. What is studied is quite often driven directly by what a class or individual student is interested in learning. In my short time at Roeper so far, unit topics driven by student interest have included architecture, dots, commerce, gardening, the Arctic, inventing, owls, and the list truly goes on and on. As students engage with content they are passionate about, they have the opportunity to pursue a course of inquiry that goes far beyond straight questions and answers, beyond the new instinct to simply “Google it” and accept as fact the first answer that shows up. As we move into individual research projects, students practice the essential process of critically evaluating sources for credibility, authority and currency, as well as relevancy and accessibility. Oftentimes they discover that seemingly complex questions have simple answers, or that what seemed like a researchable topic is in fact beyond the scope of a single research project or even the global body of knowledge. The ability to recognize when it is necessary to adjust, and then to adapt accordingly, comes with time and practice; this is difficult for many students, especially those with perfectionistic tendencies or for whom academics usually come easily. Research is, in fact, messy, but then so are realworld issues. By researching topics of personal interest, be it fashion, chess, typewriters or Legos, our students have the opportunity to develop the flexibility, resilience and creative problem-solving skills necessary for tackling challenges that impact the world today and in the future. F


By researching topics of personal interest … our students have the opportunity to develop the flexibility, resilience and creative problemsolving skills necessary for tackling challenges that impact the world today and in the future.

Laura Panek

Middle/Upper School Science Teacher


integrating technology into teaching

Laura Panek

When I first started teaching biology at Roeper in 1999, the world was a much different place than it is now. Back then students had not grown up as digital natives with powerful technology in their pockets. Today’s high school students have never known a world without easy access to limitless knowledge. I have incorporated technology into my classroom in many ways to help students learn how to use technology intelligently and comfortably. I would like to share with you the technologies I currently use.


Science is a collaborative endeavor, and connecting with them in this way is simply preparing them for a future in which they will often work closely with people whom they may never actually meet face-to-face.

Biology students, Lauren Genevieve and John Kruszewski use iPads to find immediate answers during a lab.

One of my fundamental beliefs is that it is not important to memorize information if you know enough about the subject to read primary sources online. I model this philosophy each and every day in my classroom. Roeper students often ask questions I do not know the answers to. Most of these questions come up when I am using a high intensity projector to show videos of abstract concepts or to show visual diagrams. I simply minimize the window and open Google. I search for the answer and browse through the results in front of my students. We discuss how to determine which sources are credible (and frequently laugh about the Yahoo answers that come up). This allows us a genuine moment to seek knowledge and understanding together. I now have access to a class set of iPads that I use often, and in many different ways. I use a wonderful app for 3D brain anatomy, but my favorite use of the iPads is during labs. Last year I brought in a vial of an “unknown” plant growing in my pond and asked students to identify it and then design an experiment for controlling the growth of the population of this plant. The iPads allowed instant access to information, and the students discussed their findings over the iPads easily, without the bulky interference of a computer. I keep the iPads handy during experiments so that

students can explore any ideas or questions that come up. I avoid answering direct questions during labs and instead encourage students to answer their own questions. In all of my classes I use a site called Edmodo to publish homework assignments, documents and links for the students. All students use the site to access all of the documents and links at any time, and from anywhere. The interface looks very much like Facebook and is easy to navigate. I was delighted last year to find that when one student posted a question, another student answered it before I had a chance to sign on. Sites like this open communication outside of the classroom and help students to work collaboratively beyond the school day. In the last two years I have used much more technology during Advanced Biology labs. We use government databases to analyze genetic data for reconstructing the evolutionary history of penguins. We built a computer model in Excel that allows us to test different hypotheses about the evolution of a population, and the students get immediate feedback from a model they construct and manipulate. One of my favorite recent technology leaps has been using Google Docs for group lab reports. The students write the beginning of the document in class, and then after class each student accesses and edits the document online. It allows them to collaborate and produce a formal lab report without having to physically meet. They communicate with each other outside of class, share ideas and give feedback on their partners’ work. This strategy has allowed the students to produce some of the highest quality lab work I have seen. Incorporating technology has allowed me to be closer to my students outside of the classroom despite having two young children at Roeper and commuting long distances each day. Science is a collaborative endeavor, and connecting with them in this way is simply preparing them for a future in which they will often work closely with people whom they may never actually meet face-to-face. Although I am mindful of using new and innovative technologies in my classroom, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities that exist. I look forward to the new learning opportunities that future technologies will bring. F



Karen Johnson

Middle/Upper School Latin Teacher

Lily Zhu

Middle/Upper School Chinese Teacher


The notion of “global learning” often provokes images of students traveling abroad and, to be sure, this kind of global learning does exist. It turns out, however, that you don’t need to step very far from the classroom or its curriculum to engage in meaningful and enduring explorations of societies — small, large, past or present. World citizenship begins with cultivating global attitudes, and there are few things that provide as tremendous an insight into different cultures as the languages people speak. Nothing has surprised me more as the Latin teacher at Roeper over the past few years than the groundswell of interest in the study of linguistics among students. Although impossible to pinpoint exactly when it sprung up, I can say for sure that it was the result of the student-teacher synergy that is characteristic of a Roeper education. About four years ago, I was conducting some independent research into linguistics to gain a better understanding of the language learning process, and I would regularly share my discoveries with my Latin classes — I was delighted to find the students as fascinated by the topics as I was. No matter how far from the Latin lesson of the day they were, these discussions were invaluable for extending the classroom experience far beyond the target curriculum. As is often the case at Roeper, ideas begin to spread and before you know it, you have a club on your hands. Now in its third year, the Linguistics Club unites a diverse group of Middle and Upper School students who all share an interest in language that reaches past what a typical classroom offers. We have hosted presentations on neurolinguistics (Amit Khandhadia ’12) and linguistic diversity and politics in West Africa (Mike Ruddy). We have watched documentaries about endangered languages


Mike Ruddy

Middle/Upper School Social Studies Teacher

and TED talks about the ability of babies to discern the linguistically relevant sounds of their cultures. Roeper alumna, Alexa Johnson ’04, who recently completed her Master’s degree in Linguistics, has joined us on several occasions to share her expertise and enthusiasm. We were also privileged to have a Skype session with our very own Tom Roeper, who happens to be a world-renowned linguistics professor at UMass-Amherst. Last year, the Linguistics Club co-Founder, Maddie Wilson ’14, decided to embark upon an independent study on the subject of endangered languages. According to UNESCO, over half of the world’s 6000 languages that exist today will disappear in the next century. These endangered languages contain the cultural heritage of marginalized populations across the globe and even in our own backyard. Maddie spent a year exploring facets of Ojibwe, the endangered language of the First Nations-Native American peoples indigenous to the Great Lakes region in the United States and Canada. The culmination of this independent work was a field trip to the annual Ojibwe Language and Culture Conference, held in Sault Ste. Marie in March 2013. Independent study work and club activities are but two examples of how Roeper students can partner with faculty to take their education beyond the classroom. Because our community nurtures an individual’s inherent curiosity about the world, our students are able to grow into their own understandings of global citizenship. The seeds may be sown within the confines of a particular class, but the propagation of a global disposition at Roeper has numerous places to spread.

Linguistics Club 2012/13


World citizenship begins with cultivating global attitudes, and there are few things that provide as tremendous an insight into different cultures as the languages people speak.

How does East meet West at The Roeper School? by Lily Zhu


… our program not only helps students master a functional proficiency in Chinese language, but more importantly, helps them develop a respecful attitude toward multiple perspectives and a mind open to the world.


The Chinese Language and Culture program at our school was established in 2007. When being asked about its background, Emery Pence, one of the community members who took great initiative to help establish a Chinese language and culture program at our school recalls, “As a Middle School administrator at Roeper, I had the opportunity to attend National Association of Independent Schools conventions. While at one in 2005, I attended a workshop on the efforts of NAIS to encourage member schools to start Chinese language and culture programs. What was interesting was that in and on the media there were, at that time, many stories of schools doing just that very thing. I had an epiphany — we should have such a program at Roeper. Our school has a history of breaking down walls between people and of developing citizens of the world.” In 2007, with the support from Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, also known as Hanban, and with the support from the whole school community, our school started to offer the Chinese language and culture program to both Middle and Upper School students. The program has grown steadily over the years. We now have five different levels of Mandarin language study at the Birmingham campus. Besides the study of the language, which is so different from western languages, students are also immersed into Chinese culture, which is closely integrated with the learning of the language. As a result, our program not only helps students master a functional proficiency in Chinese language, but more importantly, helps them develop a respectful attitude toward multiple perspectives and a mind open to the world. The thought of valuing diversity of all kinds is deeply rooted in our school’s Philosophy in Practice. We also strongly believe that “diversity and interdependence foster competence as much as compassion, and nurture excellence as much as empathy.” Meanwhile, Confucius also advocated similar thought in his great book Analects. “The nobleman always stays in harmony and is open-minded with others.” And while our school philosophy may not sing with the elegant

terseness of Classical Chinese, both the Roepers’ and Confucius’s notion of gaining an open mind for our students today is clearly recognized. Under the light of this notion, our Chinese language and culture program helps East and West meet each other.

Broadening Horizons by Mike Ruddy Roeper students have been involved in global learning outside of Roeper’s walls for many years. The areas include course or grade trips, club and special trips, school exchanges, and summer foreign travel. Both domestic and foreign experiences have contributed to global learning for Roeper students, ranging from trips as close as the DIA or as far as Russia, Japan or South Africa. An annual Spanish course trip contributing to greater knowledge of Hispanic culture is the November Dia de los Muertos trip to Mexicantown to view ofrendas and sample Mexican cuisine. Other learning-outside-Roeper course trips by Art History, European History, and French language have involved visits to various museums including the DIA, U-M Art Museum, and Chicago Institute of Art, to expand student knowledge through the observation of varied topics, including global art history, French painting, and Chinese arts. Roeper language classes have travelled abroad to their specific linguistic regions, including Spanish to Costa Rica and Spain, French to Quebec and in France, to Paris and Provence. Latin students experienced a special trip to Rome and nearby areas of classical antiquity. Club and special trips have involved Roeper students doing significant global learning outside of Roeper. Special International Relations Seminars in Washington, DC, in 2004 and 2006 were organized by alum and former board member Nina Beebe ’87. These arranged for juniors and seniors to meet with officials from the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Homeland Security, at the IMF and World Bank, and with social justice NGOs, foreign representatives, and international lawyers. Students gained an inside look at a variety of institutions, interacting and querying policymakers regarding decisions.


Roeper students have been attending Model United Nations conferences since 1983. Model UN involves active problem solving of varied international political, economic, social, environmental, health and cultural issues, all while representing a specific nation. In the past 30 years, Roeper students have represented the US once, but have been ambassadors for nations from Africa, Europe, Mideast, Asia and Latin America several hundred times. Roeper students often first attend the Hope College MUN in Middle School. In Upper School students may attend other multiday conferences such as the Great Lakes MUN, University of Chicago, National Invitational in Washington, or National High School MUN at the United Nations in New York. In 2008, Roeper MUN first travelled abroad to Germany, at the inaugural MUNOG Conference on climate change. Students from Roeper and over a dozen European nations met to represent over 75 countries on their policies about climate change and seek measures for greater care in use of resources. A key part of the cultural experience was Roeper students benefitting from home stays with host families from Goldberg and other German schools. Roeper students also returned to participate at the MUNOG conferences in 2010 and 2012. Tessa Stein, Roeper Fine Arts teacher, foreign travel coordinator, and 2012 MUNOG advisor said the trip was “a great opportunity for me to observe our students in this international arena. … Although they were delegates of China and Nigeria, they were first and foremost impressive ambassadors for the United States.” Senior Steven Saham said, “To be the only North American school at a conference speaking and negotiating with students from European and Asian nations was a powerful and life-changing experience. Roeper students made friends with many students from other countries that we will continue to be in contact with for years to come.” Right — Roeper Botswana delegates at the National High School Model UN in the UN General Assembly Hall in NYC: front, Aaron Bernard ’13, Tom Allen ’13, Nathan Flynn ’12, Rodger MacArthur ’12, Eric Burbulla ’12, Brooke Michelson ’13; back, Eli Simons ’14, Jacob Dalton ’13 and Rachel Nichols ’14.


In the past five years, Roeper has sponsored school exchanges with the Evergreen School in Cape Town, South Africa, and more recently with the Olympus College in Arnhem, Netherlands. These trips have involved a 10-day to two-week visit with classroom time, home stays, and local touring. On the return trip to Michigan, the Roeper community reciprocates. Alum Todd Baker ’11, who participated in a variety of Roeper global learning opportunities, noted that the trip to South Africa was the most significant experience he had as a Roeper student. Many other Roeper students have expressed similar feelings regarding summer travel with Roeper teacher-led groups, including late 1980s trips to the Soviet Union with me, trips to Western Europe from the mid-90s with Pat Lawrence, or trips to Japan or Costa Rica with Wendy Mayer since 2005. The chance to travel abroad with fellow Roeperians gives students a strong support group, while experiencing different languages and cultures, often for the first time, challenging some assumptions, but also confirming many strongly held values. Roeper students abroad are unlike most other student groups — they are open, positive, inquisitive, and fun — great representatives of our school and country, confirming the concept of “global learning outside of Roeper’s walls.” F

Above — In March 1989, students traveled to Moscow: front, Jeff Stefani ’91; second row: Sara Kelleher ’89, Mindy Pasik ’89, our Russian guide, Stage IV teacher Jane Kyriakopoulos; third row: David Neumann ’91, Melissa Eggertsen ’90, our American guide; back row: Gale Rich ’90 (hidden), Rob Conway ’91, Ken Kotz ’91, Josh Turner ’91 and Jason Helveston ’91.

Above — The trip to London in June 1993: front, Aliya Pasik ’95, Lisa Charbonneau ’95, Magdeline Ncube ’94; middle, Anna Trinkaus ’95, Beth Zick ’95; back, Zack Posner ’95 and Ulli Vichos ’95.

The chance to travel abroad with fellow Roeperians gives students a strong support group, while experiencing different languages and cultures, often for the first time, challenging some assumptions, but also confirming many strongly held values.


Godfrey Nolan

Founder/President, RIIS and Roeper Parent

the most important SKILLS

Godfrey Nolan

The obvious skills needed are raw intelligence and the motivation to be able to learn new technologies quickly. Just as important is an almost burning tenacity to not quit until the job gets done …

It’s not exactly big news that the current public school system was designed for a different era — an era which pushed conformity over standing out, and where students were being trained for the car industry to either work on the line or as engineers. Before that the British had their own system that was very good at training bureaucrats who could fit into slots anywhere in their empire across the globe. This model has been the basis of the education system for more than a couple hundred years now, and to put it mildly, it no longer works.

needed are raw intelligence and the motivation to be able to learn new technologies quickly. Just as important is an almost burning tenacity to not quit until the job gets done, and because nobody has the time or money to supervise what you’re doing, the intern or graduate needs to be self-directing and able to find whatever answers they need on their own. They also need to be adaptable to rapidly changing priorities and multiple deadlines. Some sort of low level ADHD can be very useful in this environment.

The world has changed; nobody going into the workforce today is going to to stay in the same job for the rest of their lives. Most people will change careers three or four times during their lifetimes, on average once every decade of their working lives. Engineers become entrepreneurs; marine biologists become bio-engineers; doctors become computer scientists. And the rate of change is increasing as much of the white collar work that we think of as solid professions are just starting to become automated. The legal profession will be dramatically different in the next 20 years from what it is today due to automation, and it’s only one of many skilled professions under threat.

But the best skill of all is to be able to see the big picture, to be able to make connections that reveal business opportunities, or to simply understand how the work you’re doing on a day-to-day basis contributes to an organization, and to understand that if your work is not making a real contribution, being able to change it so that it does.

Worse still, business owners know that someone joining a company is probably going to leave in two to three years, so they are reluctant to spend a lot of money on retraining. So just what is a young person supposed to do to succeed in this ever changing world? Over the past number of years I’ve interviewed a lot of students, many still in college or recently graduated. I get to see firsthand what sort of qualities work and don’t work for a fast changing company. Although I can say only what works well for computer programmers, I suspect much of what I see applies just as well to other careers. Modern computer software development is still complex; new, hot languages and technologies appear every six months or so. Supervisors and training budgets are at a premium, so by and large, you are left to your own devices to learn the latest and greatest best practices. The obvious skills

The good news is that I think students from Roeper have a natural edge over other students, as Roeper isn’t about conforming. Roeper students also tend to be intelligent, self-directing and ask that all important question: why does it work this way? I worked with a Roeper alumnus in the past before my children went to Roeper and was struck by how often he asked the question, why? I’ve also had the great pleasure of working with a number of Roeper alumni as college students and would love to work with more in the future. Roeper students more often than not have the adaptability, tenacity, curiosity and willingness to learn new things that make them very good candidates. If I had one complaint, I would like there to be more technical or computing classes in Roeper’s curriculum. So my advice to students and recent alumni would be: don’t worry too much about what college you choose or what degree you choose; what entrepreneurs and business owners are looking for is the ability to reason, the ability to connect the dots and see opportunities where others might not, and to have the common sense to act on it. And keep asking the question why — it’s amazing what it can reveal. F



Adam Smock

Director/Alumni Relations & Annual Fund Class of 1987

INTRODUCING ADAM SMOCK “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” “I remember that!!” “Oh boy, I don’t remember that!” “That is SO Roeper!”

These are just a few of the things I’m finding myself saying more and more these days. It was just over 30 years ago that I took my first steps into Roeper, and to return here to become a part of the continued growth of this school is an honor. I want thank everyone for the extremely warm welcome I’ve received as I’ve returned to this wonderful family. As I begin this journey in my new role, the first thing that becomes abundantly clear is the amazing work that has been done in recent years to build the relationship with our Alumni community and sustain support for the Annual Fund. Streamlined communications, increased opportunities for engagement and a global reach are just a few of the things that have been happening and will continue to happen moving forward. There is still important work to be done in these areas, as well as others, but it is work that is extremely rewarding. By engaging and working in partnership with those who have seen firsthand the incredible impact our school can have on the children who come here to learn, we will continue to grow and move forward on both personal and financial levels. This engagement can take many forms, such as working with current students, volunteering at school functions or providing critical financial support. Whatever form it may take, the end result is our opportunity to continue doing the wonderful work we do on behalf of the students. There have been a number of important initiatives put in place in recent years, and though we will continue to pursue them whenever possible, I’d like to focus my energy on the following areas. I feel that these serve as the foundation of success for all of the other initiatives that are important to our school and community. The first is bringing Alumni back to the school to meet current students and have conversations about the future after Roeper. An example of this was the hugely successful Philumni Day conducted earlier this year. As a participant myself, I know


how great it felt to personally engage with current students and talk about the Roeper philosophy as it relates to my experiences in the post-Roeper world. Based upon the response I received, it seemed as though the students found it to be a terrific event as well. Other areas in which Alumni would prove invaluable to current students would be discussing potential colleges, career days or just sharing life experiences they might be considering, such as travelling the country or the world. It can be as simple as showing that their time at Roeper doesn’t have to end at graduation. As a community, we can foster a network of support into college and beyond. The second goal I see as so important to our community is bringing Alumni together in whatever area of the world they live. These gatherings do so much more than just reunite old friends; they create opportunities and solidify the feeling of community and history. Moreover, they remind those that have been away from Roeper for a long time of the importance the school had in their lives. By doing so, we increase the chances of supportive engagement and financial stewardship. In our world, it is said over and over again, “It’s about who you know!” I am hopeful that we can remind our Alumni that they know a lot of people and connecting with them can create lasting memories and important opportunities. The third goal, on which I will focus a tremendous amount of effort, is arguably the most important of all those begun recently. That is the cleaning and updating of our contact database. Nothing we try to do, no event we hope to plan and no student function involving alumni will happen if we cannot reach those that have moved on from this school! Our alumni community is bigger than just the students that have gone here. It includes their parents as well as former teachers and staff, all of whom felt the impact of this school and are a piece of our history and who we are today. If we cannot reach them and engage them in our efforts, we lose a part of ourselves. There will be a big push in the coming months to reach out to every person we can and attempt to update our contact database with the most current information available. Personally, I want to give every single person the opportunity to share and connect. It is vital to where we want to go as a community in the future as well as reaching our financial goals.

Adam Smock ’87 photo by carri hammers

By engaging and working in partnership with those who have seen firsthand the incredible impact our school can have on the children who come here to learn, we will continue to grow and move forward on both personal and financial levels.

I consider these to be the most important goals laid out before me as I manage both Alumni Relations and the Annual Fund. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic (I try never to miss a chance to be dramatic), I do feel that they are at the center of everything and anything that involves the postRoeper experience.

… it’s important to remember that there are a number of other initiatives going on now, as well as some in the works for the future, that deserve recognition and ongoing support.

As I said before, though I’ve identified above certain goals that will take a great deal of my energy, it’s important to remember that there are a number of other initiatives going on now, as well as some in the works for the future, that deserve recognition and ongoing support. Some are my own ideas that I would like to see implemented, and some are the ideas of others who wanted to make something happen. Here are just a few examples of the types of organized efforts that support and strengthen our community: • In 2011, Robyn Scott (’00) saw the need for some type of mentoring program that would help recent Roeper graduates transition into life after Roeper. As a result, the Roeper Alumni Mentoring Program (RAMP) was set up.

• Frank Crosby ’85 and his wonderful new Annual Fund matching challenge last year gives us yet another example of the type of support that’s out there and the value so many place on this school. These wonderful and positive efforts are just a few of the many ways our community has come together to make a difference. You will be hearing more about them all in the coming months as well as details about how you can get involved! Finally, as with everything we do here at Roeper, this is a collaborative effort. I encourage feedback and suggestions about how to continue to build the community, support our students and ensure that everyone who is a part of this family feels connected and is given every opportunity to give back if they can. I can’t thank you all enough for the warm welcome I’ve received, and I look forward to doing everything I can to give back to our school! F

• Alumni in Roeper’s Future (ARF) is an effort put in place by Emery that gives a voice to current Upper School students about life after Roeper before they’ve moved on. • Philumni Day is an event designed to bring Alumni back to talk to current students about how they’ve taken the Roeper philosophy forward into their lives and the impact it’s had on who they are today. The 1980s’ Club Annual Fund Game, managed by a terrific team of alumni including Pam Victor ’84, Jenny Hansell ’82 and Brad Rourke ’83, has been a huge success by challenging each of the graduating classes from the 1980s to give to the Annual Fund during the month of November.



Denita Banks-Sims

Director of Development & Publications

PARTING THOUGHTS Think Globally … Learn Locally!

I was reminded recently of the tremendous spaces created to learn and grow at The Roeper School. Our philosophical commitment to interdependence and global awareness has never come at the expense of deliberately conceiving and constructing spaces that distinctly meet the needs of gifted students at home. Roeper students require uniquely flexible, exciting environments — places not rooms. Our buildings themselves are fluid and often transform into spaces that are extended dimensions for creativity and critical thinking and quiet corners where you can be alone with a good book. We create buildings designed to house freedom without limiting it.

Denita Banks-Sims photo by doug elbinger

As an example, the transformative renovations at the Birmingham Campus were designed with that goal in mind. The new lighting, the floating ceilings, the refinished woodwork, the addition of color to our walls, and of course, over 370 new windows all make for a welcoming and inviting space for teaching and learning. The project (underwritten by an anonymous major donor), is a recognition of the value we all share as a core Roeper school experience. The next phase of the project – vigorously underway — is fashioning the content and “painting the canvas,” so that it authentically matches that deliberate educational tenant. In addition, the Stage III community is exploring “Roeper” — our history, our storytelling and our spaces. Of course, the Bloomfield Hills campus is replete with iconic spaces. From the Domes … to the Hill House … to Tire Mountain … we count these iconic treasures as part of the architectural spaces that help define the program. The Stage III curricular discovery is substantial, wide-ranging and fun and draws us all in, as if we are learning about it again for the first time.

Roeper students require uniquely flexible, exciting environments — places not rooms.

Coincidentally, after more than 20 years of occupying George Roeper’s old office in the second floor of the Hill House, I have moved to the first floor, and this new setting affords both a remarkable panorama from the school’s origins, but also a near tangible recollection of those that who shaped our history and created these remarkable spaces. It is a gift that I grow to appreciate more each day. Yours,

Any place can be a place to learn at Roeper! Here, Susie Small and some of her Stage III students enjoy a lesson outdoors.



we’re saving you a seat! Here are 12 terrific performance events not to be missed! We hope you’ll join us for as many as you are able!

DECEMBER M/US Choral Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thursday, December 12 7:00pm, Acheson Theater M/US Instrumental Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wednesday, December 18 7:00pm, Bham Campus Gym


Benefit Talent Show hosted by Jamie Lyons-Eddy’s US Homeroom . . . Saturday, February 1 7:00pm, StageCrafters Theater/Royal Oak

GREASE, Roeper Theatre Company’s MS Musical . . . . . . . . . . . . . February 7 – 9 & 14 –15 Friday & Saturday shows at 7:00pm; Sunday at 2:00pm, Acheson Theater

Stage IV Band Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunday, February 9 3:00pm, Community Center

MARCH Roeper Theatre Company’s Spring Production . . . . . . . . March 7 – 9 & 14 – 15 Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sunday at 2:00pm, Acheson Theater


Showcase Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wednesday, April 23 7:00pm, Acheson Theater

Spring Dance Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunday, April 27 2:00pm, Acheson Theater


Stage IV Musical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 1 – 2 7:00pm, Community Center

CHORAL CONCERT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thursday, May 15 7:00pm, Acheson Theater

ALL-SCHOOL Instrumental Concert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wednesday, May 21 7:00pm, Community Center

George A. Roeper Festival of Senior Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 29 & 30 7:00pm, Acheson Theater







return service requested

Save the Date! for the

Mariann Hoag Scholarship Dinner

Saturday Evening 29 March 2014 Invitation to follow!

Keeping In Touch Fall 2013  

The Roeper School Community Magazine Global Learning Volume 7:1

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