UF-PKY alumna, 90, still has plenty to teach children—through poetry

UF education alumna Margaret Rosenberger (BAE ’49, MEd ’52), a fifth-generation Florida native and a 1939 graduate of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, has been writing poetry since she was […]


February 13, 2012



In her latest book, COE alumna Margaret Rosenberger, 90, writes poetry to sway elementary students away from criminal tendencies and toward a more positive future.

UF education alumna Margaret Rosenberger (BAE ’49, MEd ’52), a fifth-generation Florida native and a 1939 graduate of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, has been writing poetry since she was 10. Now, at 90, she is looking to publish her latest book of poetry, “A Guide: Ways to Succeed,” to sway troubled elementary students away criminal tendencies and toward a more positive future.

The idea for the book was born in 2005 at a meeting of the Alachua County Children’s Committee, which Rosenberger founded in the 1950s. The committee surveyed adults and students and found there were a startling number of elementary students involved in crimes. Rosenberger took concerns cited in the surveys and wrote poems about them.

“People tend to remember things better in poetry form,” said Rosenberger, a longtime Gainesville teacher and principal and a retired member of the School Board of Alachua County. She said the poems would be a good discussion starter for elementary classrooms.

She said once the collection is published, proceeds from book sales would go to a foundation with programs to keep youth from crime.

Rosenberger, who worked as a teacher and principal for more than 30 years in Gainesville and in over 20 countries during World War II, said the book is designed for teachers to read one poem each day and discuss different opinions with the students. Poetry topics range from character-building and handling temper tantrums to student health and hygiene.

She said her favorite poem is titled, “You’re not a brat.” It was inspired from her teaching experience at an Army base in Germany when students would introduce themselves as “Army brats.”

“I said, ‘I don’t like that word, ‘brat,’ and once we looked it up and read the definition, the kids decided they didn’t either,” Rosenberger said.

She recently has gained some public support from former J.J. Finley Elementary sixth-graders in the form of nominations to be the namesake of a new Alachua county elementary school being built at NW 39th Avenue and 112th Street in Gainesville. Her former Finley students have written multiple letters to the Gainesville Sun expressing their gratitude for Rosenberger’s guidance. A decision on the school name is expected soon.

Rosenberger's 1939 high school picture

Rosenberger has written 13 poetry books and continues to write in her free time along with directing the chorus at her retirement community, playing the piano and composing music. Rosenberger’s best-known composition is the “St. Augustine Song.” She’s been writing one book, about the history of the churches in Micanopy, for 60 years – and it’s still not finished. Her Sunday school teacher gave her the materials to pen the history of the churches in the area, and she said she keeps finding more and more information.

Some of Rosenberger’s older books are available for sale on Amazon.com, and those interested in buying a copy of her new book should contact her directly at 352-375-4816.

Here is one of Rosenberger’s poems from her latest collection . . .


If we think of a mountain as the road to success,
We’ll keep trudging along up hill.
We’ll take time to sigh and a time to rest;
Find peace in our hearts and share goodwill.

We may twist and turn as we continue on.
Cares may press down a bit.
Things may go wrong sometimes,
But to succeed, we rest but never quit.

Success is leading and following.
Success is failure turned upside down.
Success is appreciating those who  help.
Success is working with no thought of a crown.

Millions may stay at the base of the mountain.
Fear and doubt may make them stop.
But success comes to those who continue to climb,
And along the way, all who help reach the top.

© Margaret A. Rosenberger 2011


MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director and editor, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

WRITER: Jessica Bradley, intern, news & communications, UF College of Education