Yesterday when I posted on my wall the news that Annemarie Roeper had passed away, I meant to come to The Deep End and post a remembrance. As it turned out, a combination of feeling it much more intensely than I’d expected and having very little sleep the night before, pretty much wiped me out for the rest of the day. I was having a bit of difficulty imagining the world without her.
Here is what I posted on FaceBook, a message that came pretty much on its own very soon after I got the news: She has left us, today, and the world is a bit emptier without her physical presence. She will be greatly missed, but her work has reached so many of us, helped so many kids, enriched the lives of so many families that an important part of her remains with all of us she touched. And the writings she has left behind will go on touching lives! Travel gently, dear friend, and enjoy the light!
For those of you who might not have seen the Roeper School website’s obituary, you can find it here.
Today I want to make an important connection between what Annemarie stood for (truly seeing each child, respecting each child, and teaching not just for the mind but for the soul of each child) and what I wrote in “What Is Our Field?” and “Who or What?”
If it were standard throughout NAGC and in the schools of America to see education the way Annemarie did, I would not be so distressed by the organization’s nearly sole focus on education. Roeper School was not standard even before it was designated a school for gifted children. The philosophy brought to its founding was child-centered. The whole child was the focus and children were always to be accorded the respect due to any human being. Annemarie, throughout her life, was an educator focused on the who not the what. Children were not, to her, cogs in a machine. They were never interchangeable widgets in a system meant to bring them into compliance with regulations and expectations imposed from outside.
She was a role model for all of us—parents, counselors and educators. We would do well, as we make a decision for or about a child, to ask ourselves “what would Annemarie do?” and then try our best to answer that question. Nobody can get it right all the time, but putting that question into our decision-making process could give us an important perspective.