We moved to Huntsville when my daughter was in the 2nd grade. We had moved here after living in California and Virginia, which both have excellent public school systems. My husband went to an independent school and I went to a public school, so we were open to both possibilities.
We knew about Randolph, but we were happy with the local elementary school. When 6th grade rolled around we briefly considered other private schools, but they were not the right fit and she was nervous about making new friends. Again, the local public school was a good option.
When Brenna Claire started high school, she was excited. She had a good group of friends, she liked the teachers, and she was in all honors classes except for science. On the second day she came home and said, “I’m not going to learn anything in my science class.”
When we talked to the science teacher about switching to the honors class, the teacher pointed out that her class grade might go down. I said, “That’s not why I’m here.”
High school is preparation for college. She wanted to be actually learning something. I am sure if we had stayed there she would have graduated with a high enough GPA to quality for a college scholarship, but I don’t think she would have been prepared for college.
After two weeks of high school, we knew it just wasn’t a match. My son is a senior at the same school and it’s been fine for him, but it wasn’t working for my daughter. She likes a quieter environment and a smaller classroom – I am a small class-size believer. She wants to do well in school and go to college. There was too much homework, 20-25 hours a week, and the content of what was being assigned wasn’t worth the time it took to complete. She is diligent and meticulous, but she didn’t feel she was learning. She would spend the weekend doing homework for no return. It was affecting family life.
Our friends are in shock she made the change. She’s a not a person who likes change.
I called Randolph in September to set up a tour. We made an appointment at Randolph for a shadow day and she liked it. People and students were friendly. Our friends are in shock she made the change. She’s a not a person who likes change, but the whole transition has been seamless. She was thrilled to come mid-year. The academics are a step up, but we knew coming in that there would be a period of skill-building, and making friends, since she didn’t know anyone here. Hopefully, she will get to know her classmates better on the 9th grade Chicago trip.
Now that we have made the switch, people are asking me about Randolph. Is it really that different, and has she made friends? Yes, the schedule [a modified block schedule] is different. And the availability of teachers is amazing; it has changed our family dynamic. If my daughter needs help with something she can be proactive and ask for and receive help.
Honestly, I wish public schools were modeled more like Randolph, because all children would be able to learn with these standards. This is a quality education. You get what you pay for. I wish other people would give it a chance.
Feeling welcomed midyear was much smoother for my daughter than we anticipated. I believe the students were excited to meet a new student in January, more so than they would have the first day back in August. From day one, girls and boys genuinely engaged her in conversation that eased that new, awkward feeling. Even the dreaded lunch table was sociable and accepting.
I think people in Huntsville are a little afraid that Randolph is exclusive, and newcomers will not be accepted. After we toured, I knew that was not the case, and my husband and I are very pleased with the decision we made as a family. It has been worth the huge change. I guess you just have to experience it to believe it.
I am very proud that my daughter goes to Randolph, and I wish we had done it sooner.
Curious about Randolph? Please contact our Admissions Office to arrange a visit.
Photos: Chemistry lab, Upper School Head Mr. Liese chats with students during break, Students host Global Ties Youth Ambassadors from Central America.