Subscribe to the ZAA Email Newsletter:

Miss RobyMagistra : Miss Roby

by Carole Savitsky

Teacher Extraordinaire - a graduate of DePauw University, 1930, summa cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Retired Latin and English teacher from Zionsville High School,1975, and retired volunteer from the Page Program for academically talented elementary children grades four, five and six, 1999.

Miss Roby, first name, Dorothy. I don't know if anyone outside her family called her by her first name. Her title, Miss Roby, reflected the respect given to her by those with whom she taught and worked. She was a proper lady who served others in her role as teacher; one who respected others and was in turn respected by them.

I met Miss Roby in 1987, thirteen years before she died at age 91. During that time I learned that boys should have blue pencils and girls should have pink. If blue and pink were not available, then the boys would enjoy pencils with sports and girls would enjoy pencils with flowers.

I learned that children should raise their hands and wait to be called upon before speaking and children should sit quietly listening while being taught. Bright children could and should be challenged. All of the work that the fifth graders were asked to learn came from the high school books she used when she taught high school English and Latin. Those who did well were congratulated. Those who did not were encouraged to study harder. And, above all, children love cookies and brownies and received a bag of home baked goodies at the end of each unit of study.


I learned to carefully Xerox test papers and to be sure that the lines of print were placed squarely and neatly on the original copy. Smudges were never acceptable, wrinkled pages were removed, and booklet covers were to be replaced once they showed signs of wear.

She prepared herself and those around her. We searched for unicorn stickers during the summer, Halloween spiders were ordered early in the fall months and carefully organized and placed within the children's packets. Special Christmas holiday treats for adults were ordered right after Halloween to ensure they would arrive on time.

I learned to be patient and listen to her stories. I know that she removed grapes from the Latin banquet because some of her students did more than eat them. Those who helped her do her yard work were paid with candy bars. I learned the names and personal stories of her contemporaries in Zionsville - who dated whom and all the intrigues that followed. On Sundays she taught a Sunday school class to the senior members of her church. She loved the people in the community who became a part of her life, her family. She worried about them and cared for them when they were in need.

I learned to respect the finished products of students. I still have the stories and projects her elementary students created years before I joined the Zionsville teaching community. Above all, I learned from Miss Roby that it is important to do one's best. Every unit of study, every paper and every card contained a lesson. Her handwriting was perfect, she was always on time; she was an amazing woman. Her porch was always open. Miss Roby loved visitors and delighted in the time each person spent in her home. Next to the door she placed a bowl of candy for any child or workman who stopped by just in case they were hungry.

She taught Latin well, she taught English and writing with joy, and she loved the little children with whom she spent her retirement. At the end of her ninety-one years, she said, "Maybe God will let me teach the gifted children who are in heaven."