Farewell, Little Red Schoolhouse

Farewell, Little Red Schoolhouse
BY Aida Rogers

Lexington County Chronicle, SC
May 22 2004

Rep. Ted Pitts, right, presents Maro Rogers a proclamation from the
state legislature at her retirement party Sunday while her husband,
Hugh looks on.

Hundreds of students wished their first teacher well when Maro K.
Rogers held her final open house at the Little Red Schoolhouse in

Best estimates are that Rogers taught about 1,500 students in 41
years at the kindergarten.

She taught three generations in some families.

“It’s a part of what Lexington was then, and still is today,”
said Anne Wilkins Brooks who, with her sister Sarah Wilkins Weiss,
attended the school in the 1960s. Brooks enrolled her daughters Baker
and Anna there.

“It’s literally pulling your child up to the white picket fence where
Maro stands, waiting on your child. Each child gets out one at a time,
and that’s how they come out. You don’t dump your kids off and leave
them. It’s an involvement.”

Rogers opened the Little Red Schoolhouse when, as a young mother
of two, she realized there were no kindergartens nearby to educate
her children.

She and husband, former Lexington Mayor H. Hugh Rogers, built a
kindergarten in their back yard on Fox Street.

Helping teach was Rogers’ mother, “Miss Mannig” Kouyoumjian, who
played piano and banjo. Two more children were born, with all four
attending the kindergarten.

As the Rogers children got older, they helped with its annual Christmas
and spring recitals, with Hugh Rogers appearing for 40 straight years
as Santa Claus. At the 2003 Christmas recital, son Clifton took the
role. Daughter Myda Rogers Tompkins has been teaching and providing
piano accompaniment since 1991.

“I learn all the time from my pupils,” Rogers says. “I learned
something just yesterday.”

And they have learned a lot from her.

Rogers is Armenian and a native of Iraq. She came to America via a
scholarship to Columbia College.

At every Christmas recital, students sing “O Christmas Tree,” in
English and Armenian. Likewise, spring recitals of the past have
featured Arabic and Gypsy dancing, as well as music and dancing of
Japan, Hawaii, and the American South.

The Little Red Schoolhouse has always been a kindergarten — not a
day care. Students learned their alphabet and took field trips to
farms, grocery stores, the library, post office and museums. They
did finger-painting and physical exercise.

“It’s much more than playing ball and making crafts,” Anne Brooks said.