Polly Robb, Head of Middle School, was given the Christine Ray Richard Outstanding Service Award at the December 2014 faculty/staff luncheon. Following the luncheon, she wrote a letter of thanks to the faculty and staff. In doing so, she paints a vivid portrait of Randolph as it was and, throughout much growth and change, continues to be. We asked her if she would let us share her letter with a wider audience via this blog.
It is not often that I’m taken completely by surprise, and while I would not want my students to discover this, it is true that I am not omniscient. The award presentation on our last day of the semester was certainly unexpected, and I must express how incredibly moved and honored I am to receive the Christine Richard Outstanding Service Award. Such an award bespeaks of longevity, as well as accomplishment, and as I reflect upon the past (almost) two decades of my time at Randolph, it is impossible to miss the remarkable growth and advancement of Randolph, both physically and educationally.
Not long before the turn of the century, when I was busily raising three little children and working part-time in Huntsville Hospital’s education department, I came to know Randolph by tutoring an Upper School student who went to my church. The School, I quickly discovered, attracted an intellectual and open-minded faculty, who were seriously fun and incredibly hard working. After a short period of time, I met the Head of School, Mr. George Edwards, and he hired me to teach math and coach basketball in 1996.
It was in December of that year, when construction on the two-story building on Drake had just finished, that one of my first and lasting impressions of how special this place is was formed.
After the last day of class that semester, every student, faculty and staff member, and many parents came together to move desks, shelves, books and all the accoutrements of teaching and learning from old classrooms to new. Almost every classroom changed places that day, allowing the School to spread its wings, and the energy and excitement were palpable, but so too was the amazing feel of teamwork—we were all in this together.
A measure of a great school is the strength of the bonds, the caring relationships, between its students and teachers, and this has always been Randolph’s métier. It is unimaginable that this will ever change.
It is fun to reminisce about the one-gym schoolhouse we were, and remember the fine arts center equipped with lunchroom tables able to descend from the walls as well as a single basketball goal for PE classes. The library was located in what is now the server and mailroom; the head of school’s office, admissions office and a work room shared what eventually became the lower school science classroom. Many teachers taught across divisions, shared classrooms, and even file cabinets, and our Upper School students had cubbies, not lockers. Traditions were just being established, too; there was no band, kindergarten senior buddy tradition, House system, opening and closing convocations, or (don’t tell the Middle School students) uniforms!
To see this school change so much in my time, taking its place amongst the best independent schools in the nation, while maintaining its sense of family and student-centered focus, is a joy beyond my ability to describe in this short letter of appreciation.
As I mentioned in my quick and surprised thoughts at the lunch, this is a place that helped raise my children—and helped raise me as teacher, coach, administrator, and person.
It is in such a place as this, where supportive people challenge and care for one another, that one cannot help but flourish and stretch one's wings. With a thankful heart and an attachment to this place of learning that will never wane, I send you all my deepest gratitude.
The Christine Ray Richard Outstanding Service Award was established by the Board of Trustees in 2005 and is given annually in honor of Mrs. Richard for her lifetime of devotion to Randolph School. The Christine Ray Richard Outstanding Service Award honoree is not an alumnus or a student, but someone who like Christine, spent 15 years or more in the service of Randolph School. Recent recipients are Sandy Mullins, Mary Bowman, Ana Byrne and Roy Nichols. You can read the story about the presentation and remarks made about Mrs. Robb here.