Grandparents and Special Friends Day is one of the happiest days of the school year, when we celebrate Randolph with some of our students' greatest cheerleaders. What follows are the remarks I shared with this year’s guests.
Grandparents and Special Friends Day offers us a chance to share our school with you in a spirit of joy and partnership in our mutual commitment to the education and the lives, both now and into the future, of these Randolph students.
Randolph is a special place, unlike any other school in our region. We are an independent school, free of government oversight and interference in our work with children, free of externally ordained systems of instruction or belief. At Randolph, we are beholden only to the interests of the children in our care, and every child is unique across a range of personal attributes and qualities. We do not fit students into boxes at Randolph.
We are not relieved to discover that one child is a round peg and distraught to discover that another child is a square peg, because children are not pegs, and their lives, both at school and beyond, are infinitely more complex and interesting than a board full of holes. So, we are not in the business of boxes and boards at Randolph. We are not interested in the narrow question of what school is, or traditionally has been; we are interested in the far more expansive and exciting question of what school can be.
At a time when human endeavors and occupations are increasingly automated, and human interactions are increasingly mediated by modern technologies, relationships and community are at the very heart of our work at Randolph. Our teachers are dedicated and professional. They care first and foremost for children.
At Randolph, you will hear us talk about being student-centered. This means that children – not facilities or equipment or programs or adults, but children – are the focus of every conversation we have. When we make decisions, we do so based on what is best for students.
Our teachers are passionate about their subject matter and inspire our students every day to love learning. When I meet with Randolph seniors in small-group, roundtable discussions in the fall, they invariably remark on the relationships that they have formed with their teachers throughout their time at our school, and the centrality of those relationships in establishing their sense of self and preparing them for the world beyond our doors.
Learning is essential to our work at Randolph, but it is insufficient unto itself without the prerequisite investment in community and relationships. Our students at Randolph love learning because our teachers create an environment in which it is safe to learn, in which it is cool to learn, in which it is inspiring to learn.
We are proud of the work that we do at Randolph. We are proud that we continue to redefine the experience of education away from received notions of school. The world is changing too quickly now to cling to those notions. We are proud that we are adaptable, and that by extension our students are adaptable – intellectually and socially nimble and flexible as they face a future that will only demand more nimbleness and flexibility of them. We are proud of the growth opportunities that we provide to our students, and proud of how thoroughly and energetically they maximize those opportunities, individually and collectively, as you will witness today.