The Vision

Central to our philosophy is an understanding of interdependence; we depend on each other for our growth as learners. The spaces we occupy should foster this idea. Students need spaces that enhance their academic work around research and media literacy, but they also need places to informally gather, socialize, work collaboratively on a project, have a snack, and share time together. The deliberate creation of a Learning Commons in the center of our building will be the intersection of academic common space and social common space. It will encourage the interdependent relationships we have fostered through the Lower School and hold dearly in Middle and Upper School.

David Feldman
Head of School

Looking to Our Future

Today our students have to create spaces for collaboration in a building that wasn’t designed for it. Our students are incredibly inventive and capable, and they find ways to collaborate in hallways, classrooms, and stairwells. However, those opportunities are constrained by the current building. Designing a new Learning Commons at the center of the building allows us to develop a space with intentionality that marries its function with its form. Investing in this project will create new opportunities and enhance many aspects of our educational program. Primarily, the Learning Commons will serve as a multi-purpose gathering space, library, and meeting space for collaborative activities and academic engagement.

The Project

Hundreds of current and alumni families, faculty, staff, and students participated in the transformative “Reinvent, Reaffirm, Reimagine & Rebuild” strategic planning process. In an effort to strike a careful, conscious balance between old and new, between consistency and change, several capital needs were identified in this Strategic Plan. In the summer of 2013, The Roeper School engaged in a feasibility study that would gather community input and provide a clear direction and plan for moving forward. Geographically at the center of the building, the centerpiece of the campaign is the development of a Learning Commons on the Birmingham Campus, which will include a collaborative and technology-rich academic space as well as social space. Based on input from current faculty, staff, and students, HMFH Architects, a firm with extensive independent school experience, has designed this Learning Commons, reimagining the building and how it can facilitate the Roeper philosophy of self-actualization and interdependence.

The Dennis Naas Learning Commons

Envisioned as a skylight-covered tri-level space, built up from the scene shop and with access to the current first and second floor hallways, the Learning Commons will be the literal and figurative heart of the Birmingham campus. Covering approximately 9,000 square-feet, its development includes a reimagining of part of the first floor, the area currently used as the College Counseling office and Library. A hub of inquiry, the Learning Commons will include a physical space for students to study independently and in groups. It will be rich in technology and include access to distancelearning opportunities that capture the varied interests of our students. The Learning Commons will be both a common space for social gathering and a common space for academic pursuits.

State-of-the-Art Library

Technology is critical for preparing each student to participate in the unknown future. It allows them to access boundless resources for research and inquiry, empowering students to pursue their own individual passions. The Designing for the Difference campaign will increase wireless bandwidth, update hardware, and equip each classroom with technology upgrades. The significant expansion of the library will increase the collection by fivefold, include three small group breakout rooms, a digital classroom and academic collaboration areas.

The $4 million Designing for the Difference capital campaign contributions will be directed toward:

NEW commons area
NEW state-of-the-art library
NEW social collaboration area
NEW academic collaboration area
NEW digital classroom
NEW small group breakout rooms
RENOVATED student publications center

NEW full-function kitchen
NEW faculty lounge
NEW conference room
NEW classroom
RENOVATED offices (including College Counseling)
RENOVATED student publications center

Powerful Partnerships

MALONE SCHOOL ONLINE NETWORK (MSON) is a consortium of schools that have received funding from the Malone Family Foundation in recognition of their success educating gifted and talented students. Roeper was among the first Malone partner schools and received a $2 million grant to establish an endowment in support of tuition assistance — The Malone Scholars Program.

THE DIGITAL CLASSROOM: A key component of participation in MSON is room-to-room connectivity that allows instructors, trained at Stanford University, to interact with students in real-time via high-definition video-conferencing. This environment allows the real-time seminar component of the courses. The configuration will devote one screen to video of the participants and a second, expansive screen to the shared workspace for the classroom.

THE E.E. FORD FOUNDATION MATCH: In June 2015, the Edward E. Ford Foundation awarded a $50,000 matching grant to Roeper. The purpose is to seed our participation in the MSON. The match is a $1.00 to $1.00 cash contribution from now until the successful completion of the grant challenge by June 2016.

We know that a young student’s environment has a powerful impact upon him, upon his ability to maneuver, and upon the breadth of his notion of identity. Consequently, we think, one must see precisely a student’s spatial needs, and expect that architecture can play the role of liberator as it has never done before in education.

George A. Roeper

Our Donors

The Roeper School is pleased to acknowledge the generosity of the donors to the Designing for the Difference Capital Campaign. This listing reflects postings as of April 27, 2016.  Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the listings. If an error has occurred, please accept our apologies and contact the Development and Publications Office at 248.203.7315 or, so the appropriate changes can be made to our records. Thank you.