Cover Stories

The Write Stuff: Rossman School

Writing is a powerful way to connect with others, and it’s a skill necessary to succeed both as a student and an adult. Rossman School, an independent elementary school in Creve Coeur, offers a challenging curriculum with a special emphasis on writing and communication. “The ability to communicate clearly and coherently through writing is very important,” fifth grade teacher Annie Menees says. “We set our students up for success by emphasizing writing from junior kindergarten through sixth grade. We know that students need this ability and pride ourselves in graduating very strong writers.”

At Rossman, writing is given its own dedicated daily lessons instead of being grouped as part of the language arts or English curriculum. “Writing is often neglected or lost in the shuffle simply because it is complex and time consuming for both the student and the teacher,” Menees notes. “Our students have daily opportunities to write and learn about writing, and we as teachers have time set aside every day to teach them about it.” The writing program is student centered, so children are invited to draw upon their own experiences to inform their work, which empowers them to see themselves as authors.

Writing assignments are designed to target specific skills and aspects of the process, such as writing forms and types, planning, peer review or revision. “Our curriculum, feedback and grading are all developmentally appropriate,” Menees says. “No assignment is ever expected to result in a perfect final draft. We want students to focus on the process and improving their understanding, skills and execution. They see that writing can be fun even though it takes a lot of effort and patience.” Once a piece is completed, students get to share their work in a variety of ways like putting it on the class bulletin board, sending it home to show their families or presenting it to the class.

The program not only allows students to hone their writing skills. They also build confidence and their public speaking ability. “Our students develop into eager and confident public speakers at an early age thanks to all of the opportunities they have to present their work,” Menees explains. “We never have trouble finding a volunteer to share in class, at all-school assemblies or for an open house event. In fact, we have the opposite problem—we have too many students begging to be picked for the time we have!”

The impact of Rossman’s approach is clear in its students’ love of writing. Menees notes that many children choose to write in their free time, and they are encouraged to enter writing contents, with many winning. A group of students even worked together to launch their own school newspaper that is distributed monthly. “The passion our students develop for writing is unique,” she says. “Writing is a wonderful way to express oneself and connect with others. It is a thread that weaves itself through our entire program and builds an incredible sense of community among our teachers, our students and their families.”

Located in Creve Coeur, Rossman School serves children in junior kindergarten through grade six. The independent elementary school offers a challenging curriculum in academics, athletics and arts—with a special emphasis on writing and communication. Pictured on the cover: Third grade teacher Lynn Frankenberger works with students in the newly remodeled William E. Ball Library. For more information, call 314.434.5877 or visit rossmanschool.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Students enjoy reading together in the William E. Ball Library.
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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