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Administrative Team

Elizabeth Zurlinden -
Head of School

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Before beginning her tenure as Rossman’s eighth head of school in 2018, Elizabeth served as Rossman’s Lower School director and a first grade teacher.

Known to the students as “Mrs. Z,” Elizabeth feels blessed to have a career devoted to encouraging and supporting children while guiding them to discover a world waiting for their imprint. “Each child is a wonderfully unique individual with a purpose that can only be fulfilled by his or her footsteps in our world,” she says. “It’s an honor to nurture children’s interests and champion their talents.”

Prior to Rossman, Elizabeth worked at MICDS where she was recognized with awards for excellence in teaching and cultivating a collegial atmosphere among the faculty. Her career has also included work in marketing and admissions.

Elizabeth holds a M.A.T in elementary education from Webster University and is currently pursuing a M.Ed. in Independent School Leadership at Vanderbilt University. In addition to her formal education, Elizabeth feels being a mother to two wildly different learners has contributed greatly to her development as an educator. She says, “I tease my children that I have raised both the tortoise and the hare!”

Happiest when traveling with her family, Elizabeth loves visiting art museums and historic sites, as well as finding Petoskey stones while walking the beach in Michigan. One of her favorite days at Rossman is when she joins Mr. Huusko, Mrs. Lucas and the fifth graders for their annual fishing trip.

 

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Rachel Dixon -
Lower School Director

bio_dixon.jpgA native Saint Louisan, Rachel is a product of Saint Louis independent schools and has spent much of her career working in them. Rachel has taught first, second, fifth, and sixth grades. Her administrative experience has taken her from an urban elementary charter school to an early childhood center, and now to Rossman.

Rachel has long known that she wanted to work in education and recalls “playing school” at home with her younger brother. She believes that “our experiences in early life shape our future” and wants to “ensure that children have quality educational opportunities that inspire life-long learning and that drive individuals to make a positive impact on our society.”

Rachel holds a Bachelor's degree in Child Development from Tufts University, where she was awarded the Eliot Pearson Prize for Excellence in Early Childhood Teaching. Additionally, she has a master's degree in language and literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

She is particularly passionate about language arts and has been referred to by former students as “the vocabulary lady.” Rachel wants students to understand the power of reading and writing, of hearing the voices of others and making our own voices heard. Futhermore, she wants students to appreciate the interconnectedness of all subjects. Learning in one domain can fuel our understanding in another.

Rachel relishes time with her two young children, watching their development unfold each and every day. She also enjoys spending time each summer at her family home in northern Michigan and loves opportunities to create things — whether reimagining her garden or sewing Halloween costumes for her children.

 

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Gail Clark - Upper School Director

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Born in New Jersey, Gail has taught Kindergarten through eighth grade at schools in seven states as she has moved around the country with her husband, an independent school educator and head of school. In Massachusetts, she started a middle school program at the Nantucket Lighthouse School, where she subsequently served as a teacher and middle school head. Gail’s efforts to transform education in her community earned her the coveted Making a Difference on Nantucket Island Education Award.

As a young girl, Gail loved playing school with neighborhood children and visiting her grandmother’s first grade classroom. These experiences inspired her passion for teaching and an insatiable appetite to learn everything she can about the development of children.

“There is nothing like guiding children in their learning and watching their eyes light up as they feel the success of learning or accomplishing something new,” Gail says. “It is one of life’s most fulfilling challenges to meet each child’s academic, social and emotional needs.”

Gail believes children should be loved and respected for their differences and that educators should strive to understand the way each child thinks and the teaching methods through which each child learns best. She seeks to foster perseverance and patience in students by offering specifically directed praise throughout the learning process. She challenges students to exceed their own expectations by gently nudging and supporting them in their efforts to achieve.

This mother of three loves spending time with her nine grandchildren, reading, writing and walking with them on the beach at her vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard Island in Massachusetts. She also enjoys creating perennial gardens and has planted one in each place she has lived.

“Growing a perennial garden is like creating a piece of artwork. Coordination of the colors, height of the flowers and months of blooming takes planning,” she says.

 

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