Rabun Gap Stories

Faculty Feature: Renee Rogers, Head of Lower School

"The Lower School is filled with amazing faculty. They see potential in students before students see it in themselves. Our faculty believes that every student deserves the best, and Rabun Gap is the best. They are willing to figure out how to meet each child where they are, and that is beyond special to me."
Ms. Renee Rogers is the Head of the Evelyne Sheats Lower School and began working at Rabun Gap in 2014. She was instrumental in the development of the Evelyne Sheats Lower School.

Ms. Rogers has a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Childhood Education from Cedarville University and a Master of Arts in Education from Gardner-Webb University. 

Ms. Rogers, who took the role of Head of Lower School in 2017, had previously been working in the Middle School where she taught fifth-grade for three years. A graduate of independent schools, Ms. Rogers taught seventh grade in Macon County Schools for four years where she taught English gifted-talented, grade level, and inclusion classes.

Ms. Rogers is originally from Cincinnati, OH and now lives locally with her husband, son and two foster children. She enjoys reading, watching sporting events and finding deals while shopping at consignment stores. Ms. Rogers serves on the board of Great Beginnings Preschool and formerly served as a North Carolina Autism Society representative.
What made you choose to work at Rabun Gap? What year did you come?
I initially interviewed at Rabun Gap in the Spring of 2014 because I was curious about what it was like to interview and work at an Independent School, as I had attended Independent school my whole life. 
When I was on campus, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the students. I saw students from all over the world interacting with grace and joy, and they all looked like they were loving school. Growing up in a diverse atmosphere, it’s extremely important to me to be surrounded by people from all walks of life and experiences. It was evident from everyone I spoke with while on campus that Rabun Gap was a special place to them, and that it was much more than a job to each faculty member. When I left campus for the day my face hurt from smiling so much! I knew then that Rabun Gap held a mission that I believed in and of which I wanted to be a part. 
What makes Rabun Gap special to you? 
The people make Rabun Gap special. Administrators and colleagues who push me to be my best and continue to refine my practice and thinking is what makes Rabun Gap different than anywhere else I have worked, and that is special to me. I can point to key people at Rabun Gap who have trusted me and believed in me beyond what I deserve. They are gracious and kind, but always expect my best and challenge me every day. 
The friendships on this campus are something I will always treasure about Rabun Gap. The feeling of watching students and faculty, from all walks of life, faiths, languages, and backgrounds, genuinely enjoy and celebrate each other is a special part of Rabun Gap. I am continually impressed and inspired by faculty who dedicate themselves to bringing their best for students day in and day out. The people here make me a better educator, leader, and person.
What makes the Lower School at Rabun Gap a special place for you? 
The Lower School is filled with amazing faculty. They see potential in students before students see it in themselves. Our faculty believes that every student deserves the best, and Rabun Gap is the best. They are willing to figure out how to meet each child where they are, and that is beyond special to me. Watching my faculty interact with children each day is a joy. They bring energy, wisdom, and love every day for young children. Our school wouldn’t work without them.
What do you like most about being the Head of the Lower School? 
I like that I get to spend my time with different groups of people who make our school family special. My days are always different, and often hour by hour and minute by minute my days are varied. I get to interact with prospective families, current parents, students, faculty, administrators, donors, and community members. I enjoy that my role covers so many different parts of education. 
My favorite days are when I am interacting with people. I love getting to share the Rabun Gap experience with others. Even though my role covers much more than interacting with kids, faculty, and parents, it’s still what makes my heart happy. When I’m thinking about curriculum, instructional best practices, behavior, learning needs, or paperwork and scheduling, the heart of my job gets to set up an environment where our gifted and passionate teachers get to impact students’ lives.
What are the various roles you have held here at Rabun Gap?
I was the fifth-grade teacher at the Middle School for all subjects when I first came to Rabun Gap. Eventually, our program grew and I taught Math 5 and Advanced Math 1 at the Middle School and fifth grade English at the Middle School. I have taught fifth-grade math at the Lower School, our Healthy Living class at the Lower School, and I now teach Cursive every day to fourth and fifth grade! I love that I still get to interact with students in a teacher role. I have also enjoyed helping with Middle School Volleyball and Cirque and Varsity Softball in the past. 
Why did you decide to get into education?  
I always wanted to be a teacher, but with the addition of flight attendant or news anchor or Mary Poppins at Disney World thrown in there every once and a while! I could be found babysitting, in the church nursery, or peer-tutoring when I was growing up. I love to read and write, and I remember telling my mom that, “When I grow up, I want to teach kids how to read”.
What were you like in lower school?
I loved school, and I mostly loved making new friends! I was very social! I looked forward to learning new things and just enjoyed the entire school experience. School supplies, school clothes, new books, everything about school was fun for me. It was also very important to me when I was Lower School age to make my teachers happy; I was a rule follower for sure. I thought teachers were the most important people, and I still have very fond memories of my Lower School teachers. 
I enjoyed performing in our drama productions and went to Speech competitions with our Lower School team. I was competitive and athletic in Lower School too. I loved recess, even when it was cold during Cincinnati winters. We never stayed in from recess or PE due to weather! I had the best Lower School principal, and I always admired how he was outside opening my car door in the rain and cold. He met me every morning with a smile when I got out of the car, and he always made me feel like the most important person he interacted with each morning. I decided that if I was ever a school administrator, I wanted to start my students’ days the same way. 
What is your favorite memory from the time you have worked here so far?
There are so many favorites when I think about my time at Rabun Gap. Opening the Lower School is something that makes me immensely proud, and there are such funny moments each day that make my job the best job in the whole world. 
I think my favorite memories will always include the Christmas Convocation each year. It is a magical feeling to walk in the cold, dark evening lit only by luminaries and stars, into the A&T building bustling with students and families. The lobby is always beautiful, and the talent and warmth displayed by our students during the performance always sets my mind and heart ready for the Christmas celebration ahead. I remember my first Rabun Gap Christmas Convocation, at the end of the show the Gap Dancers did a dance number where snow fell from the sky. It was like I was watching a Broadway show! I almost cried it felt so warm and homey watching our students display their talents on stage surrounded by our school family. I will never forget the magic of Rabun Gap at Christmas. I knew then, and am reminded each year, how deeply I love our school community and how much my family loves our school too. My son, Levi, has grown up with Rabun Gap and Rabun Gap students; having my family share in my love for Rabun Gap is extremely special to me.  
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? 
I’m a huge sports fan! I enjoy watching and following athletics of all kinds. I was given the Senior Superlative of “Most School Spirit” when I was in High School mostly because I get really into anything about school, but especially when there is competition involved. I am usually pretty loud and absorbed into the action if you sit by me at an Eagle’s game, so be warned!
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service.