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Administrative Team

Pat Shipley - Head of School

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With more than 30 years experience in public and independent education, Pat brings an enormous amount of expertise to the education and development of young children. Her personal belief in strong academics and strong character carry over into every aspect of a child’s education at Rossman.

Pat strives to foster a school environment that fulfills children’s needs for nurturing, structure and latitude. “Children need to know that they are treasured for who they are, not for what they are supposed to become,” Pat says. “They also need non-negotiable boundaries and the freedom to learn from experience.”

A mother of eight, Pat became a teacher because education combines her two loves — a love of children and a love of learning. A Brooklyn, New York native, Pat moved to St. Louis at the age of 19. After graduating cum laude from Webster University, she attended graduate school at St. Louis University and taught for the Webster Groves School District and Community School before devoting 15 years to the students at MICDS. During her tenure she served as a sixth and seventh grade teacher, Assistant Head of Middle School and Director of Admission.

Pat’s extensive experience also includes memberships on the boards of Independent Schools of St. Louis, Independent Schools Association of the Central States, the Elementary School Heads Association, and North Side Community School, which serves underprivileged children in St. Louis City.

In addition to spending time with her 23 grandchildren, Pat enjoys boating and needlepointing. An avid reader, she hosts a book club for Rossman parents.

 

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Elizabeth Zurlinden - Lower School Director

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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 precious miracle with a purpose that only can be fulfilled by his or her footsteps in our world,” she says. “I want to be someone who always champions that purpose.”

Elizabeth holds a Masters degree in elementary education but feels that being a mother of two wildly different learners has also contributed greatly to her development as an educator. She says, “I tease my children that I have raised both the tortoise and the hare!”

Elizabeth came to Rossman from MICDS, where she was recognized with awards for excellence in teaching and cultivating a collegial atmosphere among the faculty.

“As an educator, I value all relationships that nurture potential,” Elizabeth says. “I am grateful to be part of a community of parents and colleagues who are deeply committed to providing the best possible environment for learning to flourish.”

A lover of great films, Elizabeth enjoys wandering around art museums, visiting historic sites and testing new recipes from her favorite Food Network shows when she isn't screening Oscar contenders. She is most at peace when snorkeling with sea turtles.

 

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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.

Want to learn more? Read Gail’s “Five-Question Friday” interview on Facebook. 

 

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