Gail Roper, Ramona’s most veteran teacher, died on March 18.
She began her career with the Ramona Unified School District at Ramona Elementary School in September of 1972. Almost 10 years later, she transferred to Hanson Lane Elementary, renamed Hanson Elementary when a new school was built on Boundary Avenue, until her death. At the time of her death, she had retired from teaching and was finishing the year as a teacher emeritus.
For most of her years as an educator, Roper taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades and was a strong advocate and leader for RUSD’s gifted education. She is remembered fondly by all who worked with her or were her students.
“I saw great teaching mastery in Gail Roper. For many years, Gail taught combination, or multigrade, classes which also included many GATE students. I can still easily picture the busy scenes in those classes, as students were encouraged to explore more deeply into topics. I walked into her classroom so many times and watched as small groups of students were engaged in the most wonderful conversations. Mrs. Roper encouraged them, laughed with them, and got the biggest kick out of their creative thinking. She had favorite topics of conversation outside of her classroom...her dear daughters, her cats, and her Padres. Gail had a distinct sense of humor. Boy, you sometimes had to listen carefully to get it, but it was so worth it. Gail’s dry humor was delightfully spontaneous. From my earliest years as principal of Hanson Lane, on through our years together at our new school, Gail was a team player. She was supportive and always thinking. Her legacy to the community of Ramona is the generations of students who became more thoughtful adults, more curious adults, more productive and engaged adults, because of the time they spent with Mrs. Roper”
Ramona Community School Principal
Elementary principal “Of all the classrooms I enjoyed visiting over the past nine years, Gail’s was right there at the top. She was always upbeat, her students were always engaged, and she always greeted her classroom visitors with a welcoming smile. Best of all, however, was her intense loyalty to Trevor Hoffman and the San Diego Padres. No matter what she and I discussed about the day’s lesson and her students’ work, the conversation would always come back to how Trevor pitched the night before and how many saves he would earn during the year. When he pitched well, I am sure that Gail always walked a little faster, smiled a little wider, and gave her students their very best lessons. I will treasure my memories forever about a wonderful classroom teacher — and an intensely loyal Padre fan!”
Dr. Bob Graeff “Gail Roper was not only a wonderful teacher but a very talented artist. While working at Hanson Lane as an art teacher, I was able to work with Gail and her class on many projects. She demonstrated her creative abilities along with her students. She always welcomed me into her classroom, and was very positive and supportive with the art program. She will be sorely missed, “
OPMS Art Teacher
Lorraine Krol “Gail was a natural teacher whose love of learning and her students was evident to all. She was also a very enthusiastic Padre fan. I will like to think of her this spring and summer as an ‘angel in the outfield’ for her favorite team.”
Teacher-on-Assignment Pat Ravin “Mrs. Roper was my fourth-grade teacher. I will never forget her. She taught me persistence and to not let anyone look down on me. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, I later understood and appreciated her reasons for making me work so hard in her class. She had a kindness in her way of teaching, yet she was determined to have high expectations of all her students.”
Mt. Woodson Speech/Language Pathologist Jacqui Olmos “I was lucky to have Gail as my Master Teacher about 7 years ago. She shared her years of experience and told me just how it would be. As usual, she was correct. Her love of cats and the Padres also made us friends. Gail loved to hear about the Lions and Tigers at the WAP (where I work on the weekends) and the stories my daughter would share when she worked at Petco Park for 2 years with the Padres. Gail will be greatly missed, but my memories of her will go on forever. Thank you, Gail, for your wisdom and friendship.”
Fourth-grade Teacher Joyce Schildhouse “I worked with Gail for 10 years at the ‘old’ Hanson Lane, and so many memories. I will always remember her as a very dedicated teacher, who spent hundreds of weekends working in her classroom getting ready for the kids and making sure she was ready for the kids on Monday. She was a very dedicated mom who was so supportive of her girls, especially during soccer season with her youngest, Stephanie. That is all she could talk about and the girls adored their mom. She was their rock. So sad, she will never get to enjoy her retirement.”
OPMS History Teacher
Mary Jane Mumford
“Gail had such a wonderful sense of humor. I had to go into her class to get a student for testing, and that particular student had just gotten in trouble for talking. I had to wait just a moment for her to finish talking with him and before she excused him to go she got a wonderful smile on her face and told me ‘sometimes he drives me nuts, but I just adore that kid!’ She loved her students.
“Next to her love of kids was her love for the Discovery Channel show, “Deadliest Catch.” She especially loved Captain Phil. We had many conversations about the show and she always made sure to give me the updates if I wasn’t able to watch. She came to me one day with the saddest look on her face and asked if I’d heard the news. Captain Phil had passed away. She was so upset. I really think that Captain Phil made her an offer she couldn’t pass up—to sail the high seas of heaven and hash over sailing stories with him.”
Special Education Teacher Lisa Rasmussen Services honoring Gail Roper’s life will be Saturday, April 10, at 1 p.m. in the Charles R. Nunn Performing Arts Center at Olive Peirce Middle School, 1521 Hanson Lane.