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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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:

Education at Roeper: