All summer long, my five-year-old, Amelia, woke up with one question. “Is it Kindergarten today?” Once she woke up twice, at midnight and 2 a.m., just to make sure she hadn’t missed her first day. When that first day of school finally arrived, she was, like any Kindergartner, a little nervous and overwhelmed, but excited and curious to meet her teachers and classmates. Like any parent, I was excited to watch her learn reading, writing, math, and all the other subjects. I looked forward to her music performances, field trips, and science fair projects.
While we both felt the typical excitement of a new school year, we were both particularly anticipating her joining me this year at Randolph, where I have worked since 2010. And I was eager for her to be a member of the community I have been a part of since before she and her younger sister were born. Since coming to Randolph, I have worked and volunteered with faculty, staff, parents, and students to help grow and nurture the Randolph community. Now, that same community would nurture my daughter.
I grew up as an Army brat, and most of my schools were Department of Defense schools. My early education was shaped by the values of the soldiers who were our parents and the teachers who chose to work with military kids. That culture emphasized character and duty. I still find myself strongly affected by that educational community.
When it was time to start thinking about the kind of education we wanted for Amelia, our oldest child, I thought back to how the culture of my schools had influenced the adult I became. I wanted to find an environment that supported the same educational values my husband and I shared. We wanted a school that would help our daughters develop a love of learning and ongoing curiosity. We looked for a place that would encourage a commitment to personal excellence, character, and integrity. Most of all, we wanted a community that would allow our girls to explore and discover their own passions.
We feel like we’ve found that place at Randolph School. And what’s most exciting is that we have the opportunity, as parents, to continue to work together with the rest of the Randolph community to grow and improve the educational experience of all our students.
A Community Where Students Can Thrive
At the beginning of August, as faculty and staff reconvened to prepare for the coming school year, Head of School Jay Rainey asked us to focus on how we might continue to build our sense of community. He shared a quote from the T.S. Eliot play, “The Rock,” that talks about the importance of consciously determining the value and character of a community.
When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle close together because you love each other?” What will you answer? “We all dwell together To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?
Randolph is where we work, but it is also the school that we choose to build for our students. What is the meaning of our school?
Through the professionalism and commitment of faculty and staff, the support of parents and alumni, and the participation of students in all divisions, we work towards the goals outlined in our Mission. We volunteer and donate to create an environment where students and teachers can explore and innovate in the classroom and beyond. Most importantly, we support our students as they both succeed and fail in that exploration and innovation. We have the privilege to determine what we value, and we have the ability to sustain that determination in our actions every day. I trust that the community we are creating is the kind of place where students like my daughter can thrive.
How Randolph Makes a Difference
As I walk around campus visiting, colleagues or on my way to meetings, I catch glimpses of Amelia’s experiences as a member of the Randolph community.
I see her increasing independence and confidence when she walks hand-in-hand with a classmate to pick her next bookbag from the Lower School library.
I hear her greeting faculty and staff members with whom she is beginning to build meaningful relationships. I’ve watched her benefit from the mentorship of teachers and coaches whom she admires and find role models in older students, like her two Senior Buddies.
When we met them for breakfast at the start of the year, she was shy and pretended to ignore them, but she was listening to our conversation. When she later wrote about what she might like to be, she offered up pilot or dancer, their own ambitions, and so already she had found role models.
On the car ride home, we talk about her class character words, like empathy and self-control. She tells me about the “Golden Tickets” she earned by taking the initiative to clean up her classroom. In so many ways, I see the work the Lower School is doing to encourage not only intellectual development, but also character.
As I go through my work day, I also see how Randolph contributes to the education of all our students. Through community service in all three divisions, they learn about the importance of caring for one another. With programs like the Middle School house system, Middle and Upper School advisory, and the morning meeting in Lower School, they build relationships with one another that will last beyond their school tenure. I see experiments in the hallways, hear conversations in various languages, see history and leadership projects, listen to Senior Speeches, and watch cheer performances on the stage and athletic field. And I see other adults watching and supporting those same students throughout their days in so many areas.
If you look up the social media hashtag #whyRandolph, you’ll find all sorts of answers to that question: opportunities in arts and athletics, academic excellence, a nurturing and supportive environment. Other hashtags—#rstories18 back to #rstories13, #rschi9—show wonderful reasons to choose Randolph, but for me, my #whyRandolph comes down to this: I cherish having the opportunity to help create the kind of community I’d like my daughters and all Randolph students experience. With every day, I am more confident in the choice of Randolph for Amelia and more excited about what she will learn here.