This piece first appeared in The Story, Spring 2018.
It all started on an August day in 1990. It was the morning of my first day as a new teacher at The Schenck School. There were ten others like me sitting in the library of the old School building ready for orientation with Marge Tillman. It was a bit intimidating. Looking back around the room in my memory, there is only one individual I remember and for good reason.
Of course, we began with self-introductions. I remember hearing Rosalie Davis speak. I wish I could quote her words verbatim. As memory serves, she spoke with huge enthusiasm about joining the faculty of The Schenck School after having taught elsewhere. On her own, Rosalie had researched the School when she saw first-hand how well students who had attended the School were doing after they left. Rosalie took it upon herself to visit the School. She was hooked.
Little did either of us know what was in store for us or the School! Adventure Number 1.
Rosalie taught middle school, and I taught the little ones, both as associate teachers for a year and then as leads. We were in the same building but worlds apart in our daily duties!
As the years went by, our friendship and collegiality grew. As other faculty came and went, there was always a strong core of "us."
Then, things began to change as senior administrators neared retirement and roles started to shift.
Marge Tillman was promoted to Director of the School, upon David Schenck's retirement. The position of associate director was open, and Rosalie was tapped to fill it – a wise move! As such, she took on a major role not only in teacher supervision and admissions but also began “understudying” with Marge to take over training new faculty.
Not long after, the position of lower level principal was created. I applied and was selected. Rosalie and Gena, together again. Adventure Number 2.
Things were changing rapidly. The School was growing in enrollment and physical size. David Schenck was still there each and every day as director emeritus. When Marge Tillman announced her retirement, I was asked to take the helm as Head of School with Rosalie continuing as Associate Head. Adventure Number 3.
In the summer of 2001, Rosalie and I marveled at the School’s incredibly low faculty turn-over, which meant there were only a few new teachers each year she would spend a great deal of time training. So she said (another vivid memory for me) "Let’s train outside teachers and tutors!” I can recall where we were and those exact words. Rosalie was immediately all-in. The response was overwhelming, and Orton-Gillinghan teacher training rapidly expanded. Adventure Number 4.
Frankly, I am at a loss for a few words to adequately describe what Rosalie has done for The Schenck School since that fateful July day! It reaches beyond the physical expansion and number of students. In Rosalie’s capable hands, the teacher training program at The Schenck School has become nationally known. She has trained scores and scores of teachers, tutors, and parents.
Because of her quality execution of teacher training, The Schenck School became one of the original Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) accredited schools and training sites. Rosalie speaks at conferences and professional developments programs nationwide, as well as teaches university classes and working with public and private school teachers.
Adventure Number 5. AOGPE asked Rosalie to serve on their Board of Trustees in 2003. She served so well that she was named Board Chair in 2008. Rosalie took these additional duties in stride, and the Academy soared. The Schenck School soared. All that Rosalie has accomplished is a vital part of why The Schenck School is where it is today. So, dear friend and colleague, I salute you! David would be proud. Adventure Number 6?
After 28 years of dedicated service, Rosalie Davis will retire from The School School this summer, but she plans to continue her efforts supporting dyslexia education and remediation. Some of her future work will include continuing to train teachers in the Orton-Gillingham Approach, mentoring teachers, and helping individuals advancing to the Fellow Level in the Academy of Orton-GIllingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). Rosalie's depth of knowledge about dyslexia and dyslexia remediation is vast. She has personally trained hundreds of teachers from independent, public, and collegiate-level schools throughout the southeast in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. She is accomplished on a national level through her involvement with the AOGPE Board of Trustees, including many years as the Chair.
- Gena Calloway Farinholt
- Rosalie Davis