Difference-Maker: Jennifer Ragsdale

Posted by Kelly Emerson - 25 January, 2018

We have a number of Randolph employees whose roles are unique to our school and whose work makes a difference to the quality of the student experience. Middle School Dean of Students Jennifer Ragsdale is one of Randolph's Difference-Makers.

What do you do? 

As the Dean of Students for the 5th-8th grades, I help students and parents navigate the exciting, yet challenging middle school years!  

Ragsdale.jpgWhere can you be found most days?

Everywhere and anywhere—the halls, recess field, lunchroom!

At school, I’m never without … 

Last Day of School before Winter Break - 5474125.jpg

Our Middle School Dean of Academic Support, Allyson McCloud, and our Head of Middle School, Clay Elliott! We have a very strong partnership and work closely on behalf of the students and faculty.

What’s different about working at Randolph?

Not only do we emphasize academic excellence, but we also put a great emphasis on a student’s emotional well-being. Through our strong advisory program and student support team, we work to ensure that every student feels supported, not only in the classroom, but in their personal and social lives as well.

People always ask...

Why Middle School? Easy answer! The middle school years are transformative, and it’s exciting to be a part of the students' lives when they are figuring out and defining who they are.

What’s your philosophy?

Every student needs someone who believes in him/her and his/her potential and is encouraging at every step of the way.

It’s important to understand that while middle schoolers are becoming young adults, they are still children in a lot of ways. They need boundaries; they want adults to trust them; they want more and more freedom (and sometimes need to be taught how to manage that), and they need to have fun! Also, students this age really want someone to listen to them. In conversations with students, I try to listen more than I talk.

Tell us something about the  Middle School brain

The speed of growth of the pre-adolescent/teenage brain is second only to the baby and toddler years. So they not only are developing and changing physically, but they are also forming new synapses in their brains. This can create exciting and challenging times (sometimes simultaneously)! Hormonal changes can make the teenage years feel like a roller coaster. Parents and teachers can help by waiting on the platform—letting the child experience the highs and lows of the ride—and being there to support them when they come off.

What’s important to this age group and how does our program meet those needs?

Peer acceptance. Through our advisory program, we address social issues adolescents face. We also emphasize accepting and embracing others for who they are.

What does a child need to be happy/successful at school?

A strong support system at school and at home.

Describe a great day at work

Every day! Because I get to work with kids!

What are some things you love about working at Randolph?

I have never worked with a more compassionate and caring faculty. When we interview prospective middle school teachers, the first thing I ask is the question everyone asks me: “Why middle school?” We want teachers who are passionate about working with this age group, and we have them.

Favorite school tradition?

Ragsdale-house-draw.jpgThe middle school house system, especially the beginning of the year house sorting ceremony. The 5th graders come in white shirts and draw one of five houses. They are welcomed into the Middle School and receive their house shirts. At the end of the year we celebrate the house with most points earned over the year and award the house cup.

Best time of the school year? 

I don’t have a favorite time of year. I love the beginning of the school year, which brings so much excitement and new hope. I also treasure the end of the year and reflecting on the growth each student has gone through. 

You can follow Mrs. Ragsdale on Twitter @JenRagsdale.

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Topics: advisors, advisory, houses, middle school, traditions, difference maker, dean, house system, adolescence

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