Randolph Welcomes Back Former Board Chair Roy Nichols
Last Friday, Jane Daniel, Melissa Tucker and I were going about the happy Friday business of good Board work, enrollment management and Lower School technology when our day got a lot better quick.
Former Board of Trustee Chairman and alumni grandfather Roy Nichols had been encouraging his caregiver to look into Randolph for her children. Since there’s no time like the present, they popped in at the Garth Campus. There are few people in Randolph’s history who have had more impact on the School’s path and success than Mr. Nichols. Who better to convey the value of our great school than him!
Assistant Head of School for Finance Linda Bryant noted how happy she was to know that he had returned for a visit. She added, "Roy’s vision and leadership are what advanced Randolph to be the school it is today. We are all the beneficiaries of his commitment and support to Randolph."
Jane had the chance to welcome them to campus, and found Mr. Nichols proudly offering a tour, not of the academic building that bears his name, but of the Thurber Arts Center. He and his guest had the opportunity to view the fabulous sets of the Upper School play that would open that evening and to share their appreciation for the creative learning that Randolph students experience.
Jane has known Mr. Nichols for many years, having served on Randolph’s board during his final year as chairman. She reminisced: “That was a year of excitement as we prepared for the building phase of the long-awaited Garth campus and simultaneously conducted a search that resulted in our welcoming Byron Hulsey as Head of School in 2006. The chance to revisit those moments and to witness Roy’s pride, yet genuine humility, around the long-lasting benefits to future generations of students was impactful.”
Since Mr. Nichols’ caregiver’s children are little, the next stop was the Drake Campus.
I always say that alumni tours are such a joy because the reunions and memories along the way are so heartfelt. The smell of the gym that’s the same, bringing back Convocation or basketball memories, the Rhett Fine Arts Center parquet floor flashbacks, and of course the Betty Crutcher hugs are the stuff of our soul.
But for Mr. Nichols, who was not a student at Randolph, his tour was about all of the students we observed, the programs we discussed, the future of the School, and his precious alumni grandchildren, current teacher Melissa Sconyers Tucker ‘04 and Max Sconyers ‘07. Our whole tour was charged with anticipation of our surprise arrival at Melissa’s classroom – more about that later!
Along the way, Mr. Nichols encouraged good discussion: “Did you tell her about the Senior/Kindergarten buddy program yet?”, he suggested, “art and music, too." Everywhere we went, children waved and greeted him with warmth and cheer. We were all just so happy to see him that it made us realize how much we want our history to stay present.
Watching Roy Nichols tour made us realize how much we want our history to stay present.
Cindy Shaw’s reunion was special. She writes: “Roy Nichols has always made an impression on me with his kindness and love for Randolph. As a board member, Roy was asked to sit in on a parent association meeting that I led. I was a new administrator and still learning about leading a team, so to lead a meeting under the eye of Roy Nichols, you could say I was a little nervous! After the meeting, I asked Roy how I might improve for next time. With a smile in his eyes, he responded: ‘You can run my meetings anytime!’ That was a major confidence boost for me and a connection with Roy Nichols that I will never forget! It’s mentors like that who make Randolph what it is and I will be forever thankful for that first encounter”.
Mr. Nichols’ passion for the school permeated this special tour and his caregiver couldn’t help but see Randolph through his eyes. “What a wonderful place this is. School should be like this for every child."
“What a wonderful place this is. School should be like this for every child."
Down the ramp to the lunchroom, Betty Crutcher was overjoyed to see him. Betty shared fond memories of early years, remarking that “Mr. Nichols was so caring. He was always coming in to the lunchroom to check in and see how all of us were doing.”
Care and interest in all areas of school life were a hallmark of his tenure on the Board and beyond. Arriving at the Lower School Library meant the unexpected drop-in to Melissa’s technology classroom. What fun for Mr. Nichols to see Melissa teaching code to a class of 3rd graders! What a special moment for Melissa to see her ‘Grandpa’ and snap a selfie. It was a privilege for me, Mr. Nichols’ caregiver, and Kim Simpson to be part of this oh-so-special surprise.
That’s how my Homecoming week got started a little early. To all of the special people in our past, please know that you’re part of our present. Visit us, come to the Homecoming game, stop by and visit our campuses, come to the faculty/parent reunion Saturday night. Help us keep our 60 years alive. Cheers to you, Mr. Nichols, and please come back again soon for another visit! Your legacy continues as families with whom you share our story live out our Randolph mission.