What School Can Be

Posted by James Rainey - 14 May, 2018

Lower School Grandparents Day - 6644272Grandparents & Special Friends Day is a “red letter” day, a celebratory milestone at this propitious time of year – when spring is so thoroughly springing all around us – that offers us a chance to share our school in a spirit of joy and partnership in our mutual commitment to the education and the lives, both now and into the future, of these promising Randolph students.

Lower School Grandparents Day - 6644316Randolph is a special place

Randolph is a special place, unlike any other school in our region. We are a K-12 independent school, free of government educational bureaucracy and impersonal efficiencies in our work with children, free of externally imposed curricula and batteries of standardized tests that only serve to distance students and teachers from the joy of learning.

At Randolph, we are beholden only to the best interests of the children in our care, in helping them to form their minds and their characters in anticipation of active, happy, and successful lifetimes to come. And because we are an independent school, we are able to be nimble and flexible in adapting our program to those best interests.

At Randolph, we know that every child is unique across a range of personal attributes and qualities. We do not fit students into boxes here. We are not relieved to discover that one child is a round peg and distraught to discover that another child is a square peg, because we know that children are not pegs, and that their lives, both at school and beyond, are infinitely more complex and interesting than a board full of holes.

Lower School Grandparents Day - 6655541

We are not in the business of boxes and boards at Randolph. We are not interested in the narrow question of what school is, or has always been, in a kind of accepted and uninspiring way; we are interested in the far more expansive and exciting question of what school can be.

Optimized learning

What school can be next year at Randolph will include our Greengate division on this campus, the fruition of our merger with the Greengate School in Huntsville that has served the needs of dyslexic children across the Tennessee Valley for a generation.

Dyslexia has been misunderstood for decades as a cognitive or intellectual impairment when in fact it is simply an inability to read easily, likely deriving from genetic factors that lead to subtle anatomical differences in the brain and even the eyes.

Dyslexia is not correlated with a lack of intelligence – indeed, success stories abound, from Pablo Picasso to Steven Spielberg – and studies show that one in three entrepreneurs identifies as dyslexic, as opposed to about one in eight members of the general population. Richard Branson and Charles Schwab have succeeded not in spite of, but because of, their dyslexia.

Lower School Grandparents Day - 6646166Embracing the uniqueness of each child at Randolph will soon include embracing any dyslexic tendencies that he or she exhibits and offering a program that aligns with our Lower and Middle School student experiences and provides the necessary tools to optimize learning.

Randolph was founded with a commitment to educating students who are “willing and able to do good work.” Our merger with Greengate School sustains this commitment by helping the willing to become more able. We are thrilled at the prospect of what this expansion of our founding vision will mean for children at our school and in our region.

Lower School Grandparents Day - 6646164Education for a changing world

We are proud of the work that we do at Randolph. We are proud that we continue to redefine the experience of education away from received notions of learning and of school. The world is changing too quickly now to cling to those notions.

We are proud that we are adaptable, and that by extension our students are adaptable – intellectually and socially nimble and flexible as they face a future that will only demand more nimbleness and flexibility of them.

We are proud of the growth opportunities that we provide to our students, and proud of how thoroughly and energetically they maximize those opportunities, both individually and collectively, as you will witness today.

And we are proud to know you, and to be partners with you in the lives of these children. Today we invite you to enter those lives for a little while on our campus, to get a sense of what we do at Randolph, and what our students are doing and learning, and how they are growing.

You come, too!

I mentioned earlier that “spring is springing” all around us, and I cannot help but be reminded of a poem by Robert Frost called “The Pasture” that captures the spirit of the invitation that we extend to you today. I will share it with you in concluding my part of today’s program; but as you listen to Frost’s words, I would ask that you hear not my voice, but the voice of the child or the children whom you are here to celebrate, and who invite you into their lives today.

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;


I'll only stop to rake the leaves away


(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):



I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.





I'm going out to fetch the little calf

That's standing by the mother.


It's so young,


It totters when she licks it with her tongue.



I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.

Thank you for sharing your time with us this morning. We hope that you enjoy your experience with your grandchildren and special friends, with our teachers and staff, and with each other. You come, too!

Topics: dyslexia, mission, Greengate, learning differences, grandparents, Head of School, founders, tradition, independent school

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