Timeline of The Roeper School

1910:  George Alexander Roeper is born in Hamburg, Germany, on September 7.

1918:  Annemarie Martha Bondy is born in Vienna, Austria, on August 27.

1920:  Max and Gertrud Bondy, parents of Annemarie, establish their first school in Bruckenau, Germany, in partnership with Ernst Putz.

1923:  The Bondys part ways with Putz and establish a school of their own in Gandersheim, Germany.  George Roeper arrives as a 13-year-old student in 1924.

1929:  The school moves to Marienau, near the village of Dahlenburg, outside Hamburg.

1937:  Max Bondy is forced by the Nazi regime to sell Marienau; the family operates a school in Gland, Switzerland, called Les Rayons for several years.

1939:  In March, the Bondy family sails to the United States, where they join George Roeper, who had come ahead in November 1938 to find property for the Bondys to start a school.  The Bondys’ school, Windsor Mountain School, opens in Windsor, VT, in 1939, moves to Manchester, VT, in 1940, and finally settles in Lenox, MA, in 1944, until it closes in 1975.

1941:  George and Annemarie Roeper, now married, move to Detroit.  Annemarie begins as Director of the Editha Sterba Nursery School (founded 1939) on Woodward Ave. in Highland Park; George founds the Roeper Grade School in the same building.

1942:  The school outgrows its Highland Park building and moves to 668 Pallister Ave., in the New Center area of Detroit.

1946:  The Roepers purchase a house and 4 acres in Bloomfield Hills in April.  In September the school opens in the new location, under the new name of City & Country School of Bloomfield Hills with 90 students through 6th grade.

1947:  First season of summer camp.

1952:  The Roepers purchase 8 more acres in Jan 1952 to complete the Bloomfield Hills campus.

1955: The Roepers integrate the student population, becoming the first integrated independent school in Michigan. The school had integrated the faculty in 1942.

1956:  In June, the Roepers convene the Gifted Child Institute, chaired by Dr. A. Harry Passow of Columbia University, to develop a curriculum for gifted children.  In September the school opens as the nation’s second elementary school exclusively for gifted children. Roeper is now the oldest independent school for the gifted in the U.S.

1960:  Four classrooms of the Middle Building open in September.

1961:  The two-story addition to the Middle Building provides four more classrooms.

1964:  The first 9th grade is formed.

1965:  Quad Building opens in spring 1965.

1965:  The previous year’s 9th graders all go on to other high schools, but this year’s 9th grade goes on to become the Class of 1969, the first graduating high school class

1966. The school is renamed Roeper City & Country School in honor of its 25th anniversary.

1969: The Domes open in September and the Trojan Horse is installed in October.

1970: The Domes are dedicated as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Domes in May. 

1972:  Duplex Science Building opens.

1978:  George and Annemarie receive honorary doctorates from Eastern Michigan University in the spring. The first volume of The Roeper Review, a quarterly professional journal, appears in October.

1979: George retires in June 1979.

1980:  Annemarie and Phillip Parsons direct the school; Annemarie retires in June 1980.

1980: Pam Dart becomes Head of LS and Phillip Parsons remains as Head of US.  Philip leaves at the end of school year and Pam becomes Head of School.

1981: The Birmingham building is purchased in June 1981 and grades 6-12 move to the new campus for the 1981-82 school year.  Grade 6 (which had been part of Lower School) and Grades 7 & 8 (which had been part of the Upper School) are reorganized into the school’s first Middle School.

1988:  Linda Chapin becomes Head of School

1989:  Libby Balter-Blume becomes Head of School.

1990:  Chuck Webster becomes Head of School.

1992: George Roeper passes away on August 24 at the age of 81. A memorial service is held at the school on September 20.

1993:  The school changes its name to The Roeper School.

1998:  Ken Seward becomes Head of School.

2001:  Birmingham interior renovations completed by start of the 2001-02 school year. 

2003:  Swim Center opens spring 2003; Steward Classroom Building opens in September 2003.

2004:  Randall Dunn becomes Head of School.

2006: New Trojan Horse dedicated at Founders Day on June 12, 2006.

2007:  Our Community Center is completed in the spring of 2007.

2009: Mariann Hoag passes away July 6, 2009.  She began working at the school as George’s secretary in 1948, “retired” in 1997, but continued managing the financial aid process until her death.

2010: School celebrates centenary of George Roeper’s birth.

2011: Philip S. Deely becomes Interim Head.

2012: The Children’s Library opens in spring 2012; Annemarie Roeper passes away May 11 at the age of 93. A memorial service held at the school on August 25. David H. Feldman becomes Head of School.

2016: School celebrates its 75th anniversary.

2017: Dennis Naas Learning Center on the Birmingham campus opens in September 2017.

2018: School celebrates centenary of Annemarie Roeper’s birth.

The Evolution of Roeper’s Buildings

Spaces that support and advance an educational philosophy

Original Publication Date: Spring 2017

George and Annemarie grew up in the idyllic setting of Marienau, the German boarding school founded by Annemarie’s parents, Max and Gertrud Bondy. The school had a cozy scale that encouraged community and comfort, offered expansive and accessible natural beauty, but was close enough to a wealthy town to offer a variety of cultural opportunities. This was the model George and Annemarie sought to replicate in their schools. 

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Citation: Ruff, M (2017). “The Physical Environment,” The Roeper School Archives, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Coventry Crest

The former Music Room is now the Admissions Office.

The former Dining Room is now the Development Office.

The building we now call Hill House on the Bloomfield Hills campus was originally completed in 1929 as a family home by Alfred and Zillah Stephens. They named it Coventry Crest, to commemorate Zillah’s family’s origins in Coventry, England. The building remained in the Stephens’ family until 1946, when George and Annemarie Roeper purchased it for their school.  The building was the sole space for the school until the Middle Building was built in 1960. Until the 1990s, it was known as the Main Building but is now called Hill House.

The Stephens’ grandson created a website about the history of the building. In another connection between the Stephens family and the school, Alma Burrows, a beloved Roeper Nursery teacher from 1956-1972, had been a nanny for the Stephens family before coming to teach at the school.

Gallery of Building Photos

A selection of views of The Roeper School

The Origins of The Roeper School

From Europe to Michigan, an educational philosophy finds a new home

Original Publication Date: Fall 2016

During the celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Roeper School in 2016-17, School Historian Marcia Ruff wrote histories of several aspects of the school. In this article, she traced George and Annemarie’s path from their upbringing in the progressive boarding school in Germany founded by Annemarie’s parents, Max and Gertrud Bondy, through their flight from the Nazis and the evolution of The Roeper School in Michigan.

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Citation:  Ruff, M.  (2016). “The Origins of The Roeper School,”  The Roeper School Archives, Bloomfield  Hills, MI.

Global Heritage

The far-reaching travels of the Bondy and Roeper families shaped their commitment to interdependence

Original Publication Date: Fall 2013

George spent his earliest years in Japan, where his father had a business. Annemarie traveled extensively through Europe, thanks to her father’s passion for art and architecture. All their lives, they felt part of a global community of intellectuals engaged in the project of making the world a better place in various ways. For them, our inescapable and profound interdependence with other human beings and the world that supports us was an unquestioned truth.

Global Heritage KIT

Citation: Ruff, M. (2013). “The Global Heritage of The Roeper School,” Keeping in Touch: The Roeper School Community Magazine,  Bloomfield Hills, MI, Vol. 7:1, pp 4-6.

 

Why Roeper Became a School for Gifted Children

The national interest in gifted children piqued the interest of the Roepers

Original Publication Date: Winter 2017

The Cold War rivalry of the 1950s triggered a national interest in identifying gifted children in order to ensure their skills could help advance American interests.  George and Annemarie recognized that gifted children could play an important role in improving society. They were concerned that there was little research about the emotional needs of gifted children and that without that knowledge, the new attention might derail the children’s optimal development. They decided to dedicate their school to gifted child education so they could develop the best method for educating gifted children as whole individuals, as had been their focus with all children, and share their findings with the larger educational community.

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Citation: Ruff, M. (2017) “The Beginning of a New Educational System,” The Roeper School Archives, Bloomfield Hills, MI. 

How Roeper Became a School for Gifted Children

Behind the commitment was a well-developed plan and broad support

Original Publication Date: Spring 2017

The Roeper School, known then as City & Country School, had only been in existence for 15 years when George and Annemarie made their substantial decision to focus exclusively on gifted child education. They had a strong base of local supporters, however, and reached out to nationally known figures in gifted education to help design the program. The success of their plan has made The Roeper School the oldest independent school for the gifted in the United States, and led George and Annemarie to become prominent advocates for the awareness that the emotional complexity of gifted children is as significant a part of their identity as their cognitive abilities. 

KIT - SPRING2017 - PEOPLE.GIFTED

Citation: Ruff, M. (2017). “The People and the Ideas Behind Making Roeper a School for Gifted Children,” Keeping in Touch: The Roeper School Community Magazine, Bloomfield Hills, MI, Vol. 10:3, pp 7-11.

Roepers’ Roeper

Original Publication Date: March 1980

Kathryn Parsons was the wife of Philip Parsons, the Upper School Director who was hired in 1979 to succeed George Roeper when he retired. Intrigued by the school, Kathryn interviewed George and Annemarie with the idea of writing a book about the Lower School program.  Philip departed in June 1981 and so Kathryn didn’t write the book but did publish an insightful article in the school newsletter based on her interview.

Roeper's Roeper

Citation: Parsons, Kathryn, “Roepers’ Roeper,” RCCS News of Roeper City and Country School, Feb-Mar 1980, pp. 10-11.

Across Time and Space

A film about the Bondy and Roeper schools

In 2002, filmmaker Kathryn Golden released “Across Time and Space,” an hour-long documentary about Annemarie Roeper’s parents, Max and Gertrud Bondy, who were progressive, humanistic Jewish educators who established Marienau, a boarding school in Germany where children were taught self-awareness, tolerance and democracy.  Annemarie met George when he came as a student in 1924. George was a student leader and helped developed the school’s democratic decision-making structures.

This film features a number of interviews with Annemarie, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 93, and includes archival footage from Windsor Mountain School, as well as new footage from Roeper and Marienau in the 1990s, plus interviews with family members and alumni of the schools.  It explains the roots of George and Annemarie’s educational philosophy and how the trauma they suffered in Germany strengthened their belief that democracy, tolerance and non-violence are the only paths to a humane world.

Two clips from the film are available online. The first covers the rise of the Nazi Party and its impact on the Bondy family.  The second explores the education at The Roeper School.

The rise of the Nazi Party:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwfqX90tF6w

Education at Roeper:

https://youtu.be/BNUGGM0RpFk