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What Sets Rossman Apart: A Newcomer's Perspective
By: Lower School Director Rachel Dixon
Throughout my life and career, I have experienced a variety of independent schools in a number of capacities from student to parent, and teacher to administrator. Every independent school has its assets, and its quirks, but there are several distinct qualities that I believe set Rossman apart from other schools and make it a truly special place to be a student, family or faculty member.
Commitment to Each Student
When a child becomes a Rossman student, no matter at what point that journey begins, every effort is made to ensure their success across all elements of our program. There are many structures built into our schedules and routines to ensure that each and every child reaches their potential. We recognize that there is no “one size fits all” approach — each child is unique and brings their own set of strengths and interests, challenges and needs.
There are many meetings and much coordination that happens behind the scenes to ensure that all necessary supports and accommodations are in place for each child. Through formal and informal assessments, observations and general knowledge about a child and family, we work hard to determine what is best for each child and continually revisit these conversations as we analyze the success of our efforts. This happens so seamlessly, that visitors most likely would have no idea about the level or intentionality behind each and every element of a school day.
From “You’re A Grand Old Flag” to the annual Holiday Program to our lunchtime prayer, Rossman is a school steeped in tradition. In fact, some Rossman traditions have been with the school since its inception over a century ago. Traditions offer community members a sense of belonging and carry forward Rossman’s legacy. The institutional memory carried forward by our long-term faculty creates a special opportunity for Rossman alums to return to campus and witness these same traditions in action with a new generation of students and further stokes their sense of belonging.
Many schools tout the inclusion of character education in their program, but few actually live it in the way we do at Rossman. Though I was a new face to all of our Rossman students this year, I have been so moved by the courtesy and respect they have extended to me. Each morning I stand at the back door welcoming our younger students for their day, often saying, “Have a wonderful day!” or “How are you today?” Even weeks into the school year, I continue to be impressed when I receive a reply, “Thanks. You too, Mrs. Dixon.” or “I’m great. How are you?”
Rossman Families have quickly become one of my favorite aspects of our program. I have experienced buddy programs, but nothing at all like our families which bring together faculty with students spanning all of our grade levels. Not only do Family Gatherings allow dedicated time for character education, but they also build each child’s capacity to interact with different members of their community, to take different perspectives, and to become comfortable in a different group outside of their classmates and familiar teachers. The impact of Rossman Family Gatherings extends far beyond the halls of Rossman.
Children thrive on routine, on knowing expectations and limits. Our faculty understands that children feel most secure when their lives are predictable and they know how to get their needs met. Teachers at Rossman are incredibly intentional and thoughtful about the introduction of routines and processes in the first weeks of school. In fact, I believe the first week at Rossman was the smoothest first week of school I have ever witnessed. These routines will go a long way in developing self-regulation and executive functioning skills, critical elements of academic success.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the impressive meal service at Rossman. Lunchtime here is about so much more than food. Universally across cultures, food tends to be a powerful symbol of nurturing, gathering and celebration. Rossman’s approach to meals takes into account all of those elements. Ms. Lay, Ms. Bryant, Mrs. Hutchinson and Mrs. Olden take pride in serving up delicious meals filled with love and care. This team gets to know all of our students, beyond their allergies and preferences.
Choice is an important part of our meal time. We want each child to partake in a meal they can enjoy, allowing meals to be about fellowship, rather than scavenging for something appealing. Furthermore, Rossman teachers are offered the same meals and sit amongst our students, engaging with them during lunchtime. This means that teachers do not need to rush around during lunch preparing their own food, or hand their classes over to another teacher for the lunch period, as is the case in most schools. Our faculty are present with their students modeling everything from the trying of new foods and understanding of others’ varying tastes, to engagement with tablemates and table manners. Joining Rossman students for lunch is a highlight of my day!
Did you know that family members are welcome to join their Rossman students for lunch? Parents, come partake in this special time!
The rhythms, routines, traditions, and priorities of Rossman have undoubtedly made a strong impression on me. I cannot wait to experience what the rest of school year has in store.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.