"Randolph means a quality education. It's been 25 years since Roy finished here and it is still the best investment I ever made."
The Priest family appreciates Randolph for many reasons, across three generations.
We are grateful to Jeanie Priest and son Roy '92 for sharing their #WhyRandolph story.
Our Randolph experience started in 1975. We lived in a part of town where my neighbors expressed legitimate concerns their children were not getting a good education at our local school. Kelly ’88, my daughter, was about to enter kindergarten. Even though I believe in public education, I did not want my children’s education to suffer.
I liked that Randolph was small and the teachers would really know my children. And they did. I didn't realize then what a difference that would make. They supported my family, my children, and me when we encountered financial struggles several years after starting Randolph. Hillary Clinton said, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and Randolph was my village.
I divorced when Kelly was in 4th grade and Roy was just starting kindergarten. What happens so often in a divorce is the woman's finances suffer and certainly mine did. The children’s father didn’t contribute much financially, which left me to manage the best I could. I was pursuing my bachelor's degree to better myself and improve my income. But I was determined to keep the children at Randolph, so I approached the school about tuition assistance.
I read recently it takes 20 years, on average, to get out of poverty if nothing goes wrong. Well, I won't say exactly that I was in poverty, but everything went right. I had tremendous support from the community, with Randolph's tuition assistance, with my ability to work additional jobs to be able to put it together. Each year that was my goal; I told myself, if I can just keep them at Randolph one more year, they will be better off.
My children’s Randolph education was a priority for me. I believed if they had a good, solid primary and secondary education, they would be able to manage college on their own. I took it one year at a time. I am an accountant; I had my day job and also night jobs I was lucky to be able to do from home. I had to get creative about vacations, sometimes bartering with friends—I would do their taxes and they in turn loaned us their RV. We made it work.
When we bring children into the world, we owe it to them to provide them the best opportunities we can. A good education was something I owed them. They will tell you that I preached to them, “I’m going to get you through Randolph and you're going to have to do university on your own—and you are going to go.” That was the expectation.
Randolph helped both of my children secure (partial) college scholarships. They worked their way through to pay for their remaining college years. Kelly went on to earn her master's degree in clinical psychology. I’m very proud of both of them. They are both successful monetarily, but more importantly they’ve got tremendous hearts and character and that is my pride.
Both of my children have put their educations to good use. The Spanish Kelly learned at Randolph has been very useful in the Los Angeles area, where she teaches social skills for children and parents of children who are on the autism spectrum. Roy uses his French when he is in France, Canada and Luxembourg on business trips. They both write beautifully. The School provided structure, discipline in a challenging learning environment.
Randolph did my family a tremendous service by making financial aid available. I did not consider that a gift, I considered it a loan that has been my pleasure to repay through the Randolph Fund. When Roy graduated from Randolph, I started to make an annual contribution to the School. He certainly has benefited from his education. I like to think the money we have given back supports other families who need it.
Coming back as a grandparent, it has been tremendous to see how many alumni are sending their children to Randolph today. It’s about the best testament a school can have. I'm more relaxed now and can appreciate so much of what my grandchildren are experiencing.
Randolph means a quality education. It's been 25 years since Roy finished here and it is still the best investment I ever made.
Roy Priest ’92
I don't think I realized the full extent of how hard my mother was working to support our education until I grew up and had my own kids. When I began looking at Randolph I had to make those priority decisions for my own family. Because of the strong foundation I had at Randolph and through my own hard work, I was in a position to afford Randolph more easily than my mom had been. But still, like all parents of kids at Randolph, you make choices. The tuition we pay at Randolph might in some families go toward a house at the beach or some other luxury. For me, Randolph comes first as a necessity for our kids. I inherited that value from my mom. I saw how hard she worked for our education; that was important both from my experience and also from her example.
I’m confident Laura Dale and I are giving our kids the best head start we possibly can and the best foundation for life and for academics. My wife and I both feel Randolph is worth every penny, and then some. My mom mentioned my older sister living in Los Angeles and where she lives the private school education is roughly double what Randolph costs. I'm not having to make as big a sacrifice or as difficult a choice as my mom did, but we're still prioritizing how we're spending our money. We see it as an investment. My mom did too. It was an investment in her kids.
Maybe the most important thing I learned at Randolph was a love of learning and a desire to understand the world around me. Randolph taught me how to learn and inspired me to want to keep learning, through my college education, but also through my own independent reading, my interest in world affairs, literature, and science, as a citizen and as a person. All those things interest me now because I was exposed to them at Randolph and taught to appreciate them. I think it gives me a richer life. I learned to appreciate the arts from my mom, who took me to museums, and also from what Randolph gave me—and is giving my sons: a good foundation in and appreciation for art and literature.
This summer, I took my son to New York City. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Riley rounded a corner and shouted, “Van Gogh!” (Thank you, Mr. Howse!)
My wife and I make contributions to the Randolph Fund, generally unrestricted, but I've also expressed interest in seeing how we could ensure that those funds go toward helping a family that doesn't have the means to make the entire tuition payment, but is interested in and committed to getting the education that Randolph provides, just as Randolph did for my family when I was young.
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Family portrait by Olivia Reed Photography.