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Louise Ross was a passionate and devoted champion of students. She served as ECA's Guidance Counselor, Dean of Students, and "Listener-in-Chief" for 28 years. She lovingly guided and encouraged countless students through their ECA careers, from their first visit to ECA as a “shadow”, through their artistic, academic, and personal triumphs and challenges during high school, and through the ever-daunting college application process. Her door was always open; she was kind and compassionate; she was never hesitant to express her opinion; and she firmly believed that all young people deserved a chance to learn, to be heard and to be cared for. She was beloved by both students and faculty and we miss her terribly.
On Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 5:00pm a celebratory ceremony was held outside the doors of ECA to dedicate a memorial plaque and clock, which honor the memory of our dear Louise.
We thank you for visiting our memorial to Louise. If you are a former ECA student or colleague of Louise's, we invite you to share and add your fond memories to this page by contacting any of the ECA Department Chairs or sending an email to the website editor, Michael Lerner: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ECA Community
“Every little breeze seems to whisper "Louise."
Birds in the trees seem to twitter "Louise."
Each little rose tells me it knows I love you. (love you)
Every little beat that I feel in my heart
Seems to repeat what I felt at the start.
Each little sigh tells me that I adore you, Louise.”
These lyrics from a 1929 song sung originally by Maurice Chevalier, have repeated themselves in the corners of my mind and the recesses of my memory as I prepared these words. They make me smile as I think of the woman we celebrate, our dear colleague, guidance counselor, “listener-in-chief” and friend, the one the only Louise Ross. We remember and honor her, her legacy, and her 28 years of service to our community.
“Just 2 more years Weezy and you would have qualified for the BIG ACES umbrella!” I trust that comment would have made her laugh, because making Louise laugh or at least smile, became my objective as I supported my friend as she valiantly battled her cancer during the final stages of her journey on this earth.
So when I think of Louise, I hear her laughing and I see a smiling face, beaming with joy. “Hi Peetee!” “Hi Weezy!” became how we greeted each other, as our relationship grew over the last fifteen plus years from colleague, to my colleague and friend.
I believe Louise touched all of us and our lives in a special way.
I am a better teacher and a better person for having known, worked with and listened to you, Louise Ross. Thanks for all that you have done to foster and nurture our community and our students throughout your twenty eight years at ECA. Thanks for making this world a little better with your wit and your wisdom, your encouraging words, your laughter and your smile. Thanks above all for being you, the one and only Louise Ross.
Peter Loffredo - Theatre Dept.
Louise showed me how to LISTEN – to listen intently to understand not to respond. It was not always easy – in fact it was never easy- and most of the time I was seething inside and barely able to sit still – but I did learn to listen first and respond later after much more thought. This was such an invaluable lesson for me. – I feel deeply indebted to Louise’s wisdom.
Susan Matheke - former Dance Dept. Chair
I miss seeing you sitting in the sun outside the ECA sliding doors, holding the clock, smiling, greeting everyone, students and faculty, enjoying a conversation with those who stop to talk.
Without words, the clock in your hands invited us to be on time, cheerfully, but firmly – right there, you gave us reassurance of support, of structure and secure foundation for the delightful chaos and enterprise of Art to follow.
I never knew you were so unnerved by neutral masks until I encouraged my mask class to greet everyone on the 1st floor! After that, I talked to subsequent classes seriously about not making you uncomfortable. As far as I know, they controlled their mischievous impulses and went out of their way not to frighten you. Students cared about you and liked you so much.
You made me feel welcome – not like a pest – when I had a concern about a student. And you cared about each one, and followed through on providing them guidance or help, whether it was something to eat for lunch, an academic or emotional crisis, a place to live, a bad breakup, or because they didn’t get the role they wanted in the main stage play. They knew that you were always on their side.
I loved that we liked the same clothes and both found the same things at Macy’s – on sale, of course! I loved that we were the first to form the ECA Grandmother’s club, which grew larger as Anna and then others joined. We knew we had each other to share pictures and funny little stories and ‘great’ accomplishments of our grandbabies, without the worry of forcing an uninitiated audience to realize the importance of such things!
My favorite memory of you is when you sang “Second Hand Rose” for the entire school in the Arts Hall! You were absolutely great! Your spirit alone won everyone over! What a gift you gave us that day!
I will miss you very much, Louise. But I am confident that you are soaring over, around, and among us, when you take time off from watching over your lovely family – especially those precious grandchildren. I believe we’ll meet again – and probably be wearing the same outfit! And we won’t care one bit!
Til then, much love,
My Mother’s Hand is the Wind Tonight
My Mother’s hand is the wind tonight
Pushing my hair back gently
As she did before.
She died some time ago.
She is here in the cool twilight –
Always with me, She of the earth
“Take care of yourself.
Remember, I love you.”
They say her body turns to dust
Then the dust motes beam with love.
They say her body is mostly water
Then rain falls on me kindly.
In ancient days she carried me
Her song did sooth me in her arms
So I belong. I always walk
In such congenial company
And always will.
She valued me.
-- Barbara Hugo Keogh
I will not prepare to die.
I will be taken in mid-flight.
I fall, still flying,
And must be yanked
Unwilling through the veil.
A sort of end,
But the beginning -
Sweeping over the falls,
I will land swimming.
This birth I fear
But, Mind, prepare
While living here
To leap out there or there.
Just don’t lie there
To sleep eternally,
For I’ll be wanting you
Wherever I may be!
--Barbara Hugo Keogh
Flying Free Song
Not a cloud in the sky outside.
I’m feeling so high, hah! And so wide!
So I’m going to die, they decide.
Going looking today for my staff and rod.
Going flying today, where I used to plod.
Going back – I may – to the Mind of God
Grandkids whine, trying not to cry.
Kids say I look fine – what a kindly lie.
I’m stretching out feeling ten feet high.
Without this weight how light I’ll be.
Won’t be in bed – be flying free.
How can I die when you’re all so much of me!
--Barbara Hugo Keogh
Joan McAfee - Theatre Dept.
Hi, my name is Sivan, I graduated from ECA four years ago exactly, from the theater department. I’m very honored to have been asked to say a few words at this event because Louise was, and is, a huge part of my ECA and my high school experience.
Louise was one of the most generous and grounded people I’ve ever known. The first floor radiated with her energy, and every time I was down there I would pop in just to give her a hug or say hello. Even now, I think of her office so fondly as such a safe and positive space. Every day before ECA began, from 12:50-1 or so, Louise would sit right outside the sliding doors, holding the large clock from the wall of the first floor, a huge smile on her face. This is the best way I can explain what she was for the students here, a gentle reminder to be our best, to show up on time, but all the while with a huge smile on her face, making us feel welcome, included and important.
She gave so much to her students here. From freshman year, she was there for me in her gentle and graceful way, offering a space to talk and a person to trust and we got closer and closer as the years went on. When my grandfather passed away and I tried to hold back all my feelings and pretend everything was fine, she was the first one who held me and let me cry and told me, hey Sivan, why don’t you skip rehearsal today, it’s okay, I promise. She was one of the first people I ran to tell about my acceptance to Wesleyan, she asked me daily about my projects, my work, my dreams, and cared so truly and fully about my failures and my successes. She encouraged me every day to believe more fully in myself and to strive for more.
Louise embodies the spirit of ECA so wholly. This is a place where students are encouraged to foster something that is inside of them, to make that thing present and known and loved. Louise managed to help so many of us to do that. She encouraged us to apply to more challenging colleges, but remember that where you go doesn’t ultimately matter. She encouraged us to work harder, to get better grades, to put in more time and more effort, but reminded us that grades aren’t a mark of self, that happiness and generosity, and exploration are the real goals. She pushed us to make friends, but also to take care of ourselves, to grow up and behave a little more maturely, but reminded us that it was okay to cry, to make mistakes, to fail. She was a guiding light to so many students here, me included. High school is such a formative time. We’re old enough to make really bad choices, but young enough to fix them, change things, drive our lives in better directions and drop into our potential. Louise knew that too.
What she gave to ECA and to so many of the students who’ve crossed through these doors is absolutely untraceable, but I know that I, and all of the students who she inspired can and will carry forward her message and her love and continue to encourage one another to strive for more and to be our best selves. In Hebrew we say, Zichrona Livracha , may her memory be a blessing, because all those who knew her were truly blessed to. Zichrona Livracha, Louise, and thank you.
Sivan Battat -- ECA alumnus
The photo of Louise sitting outside ECA with the clock brought so many memories of her back to me. Louise was a rock to all of us at ECA. When you're a teenager you often feel like things are always going wrong and her meetings to check in on us always reminded me that everything would be ok. As a student that changed my mind many times about what I wanted to do during my time at ECA as well as beyond, Louise always was there to remind me that whatever I did I had the support of my teachers and peers at ECA and more importantly, that it would be ok. When I got into my first choice college, Louise was the first person I wanted to tell. ECA was such an important part of who I am now and without Louise I don't think I would have valued the education I received there nearly as much. Louise was at the heart of ECA and I hope her memory will remain there for years to come.
Kieran Edelstein - ECA alumnus
I remember Louise being a very nice person. I remember during both my application process (to ECA) and when I eventually transferred from the Writing Department to the Theater Department, Louise was very kind, down to earth and exuded a calm during those stressful periods for me. The time that stands out for me is when I wanted to transfer to the Theater Department. I was afraid it would be impossible or, at best, a difficult, lengthy, red tape'y process. However, Louise was nothing but patient, understanding and caring about my wish. She helped me make the transition smoothly and with a warmth that was very relieving and comforting. Maybe this was just the way Louise operated all the time, but for me at the time- a lost, frightened kid who had just lost a parent- it meant a lot. I always think of Louise fondly as a result of my experiences with her. My sincere condolences go out to her family, and my wishes for Peace go to Louise.
Chris Langan - ECA alumnus
A huge salute to Louise, who made us feel welcome and important every time we stepped into her office. A woman who knew so well how to talk and really communicate with teenagers, the kind of teacher who loved her kids but didn't let them get away with anything because of it. ECA and all of us alumni will miss her very much.
Tess Chardiet - ECA alumnus
ECA played a special, pivotal role in my life - in many ways it saved it - and there at its entrance was Louise. She was a beacon of light and everyone benefitted from knowing her. Our conversations were frequent and joyous, and she, like the institution, gave my life direction. There are certain people who define a place and are connected to the great memories you have of it. Louise will be remembered by all of us, her children, as we continue to create the plays, poems, paintings, and music that she helped make possible.
Nate Kressen - ECA alumnus
She was my friend through good and bad. She fought so hard to live, to see her grandchildren grow and thrive and go on to do good things with their lives. She was a hero to me with her dogged determination she set a path that we all should follow. Strength, love and honesty are virtues she lived by and so should we.
Katy King - ECA Office Manager
Louise spent her lifetime devoted to helping children see their value, their beauty, and means by which they could grow to their greatest potential. She was a mentor to me through one constant essential question that she asked teachers like a mantra. "How does it help the kids?" "Make sure you're helping the kids." Over the years, this question has become a mantra that asserts itself in my mind in every aspect of my teaching. I only hope that I can make as much difference in the lives of half as many children as Louise helped throughout her life.
Michael Lerner - Theatre Dept.
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