Rhodus Moves Up the Daisy Chain


ALL SMILES Randal Rhodus, future head of lower school and current second grade teacher, discusses parent day plans with second grader Alexis. Photo by Hailey

Wargo announces new Head of Lower School, community expresses excitement

Second grade teacher Randal Rhodus ’97 did not hesitate in expressing her excitement in accepting the position of new Head of Lower School, a role which she will begin for the 2012-2013 school year. She set the goal of becoming a leader in education as a Hockaday student inspired by Marion Crume, the Head of Lower School during Rhodus’s years there.

“She really made an impact on my life,” Rhodus said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be a Lower School Head. When the job was posted, I used the quote I keep on my desk ‘What would you do if you knew you could not fail?’ That’s been my inspiration to go for it.”

In a letter to the Hockaday Community, Eugene McDermott Headmistress Kim Wargo affirmed her confidence in her selection of Rhodus as the next Head of the Lower School.

“Randal emerged as the obvious choice in a pool of exceptional educators,” Wargo wrote in a letter to the Hockaday community. “Colleagues described her as smart, empathetic, personable, warm, joyful, balanced and collaborative.”

Rhodus has donned many hats during her nine years teaching in the Lower School—she integrated and redesigned the social studies and computer programs for second grade as Lower School Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator, built the second grade economics program and worked with fellow teachers to develop the second grade language arts program. She has also served on the Board of Trustees, the Lower School Admissions Committee, the Load and Compensation Committee and as the Director of the Creative Arts Camp.

As a Hockaday student, Rhodus was honored with the Founder’s Day Award, the Idanelle MacMurray Headmistress Award and the Sudie Duncan Citizenship Award.

“We are fortunate, indeed, to have one of our own providing visionary and inspirational leadership for the Hockaday girls of today who—like Randal—will be the leaders of tomorrow,” Wargo said.

Rhodus described the application process as “so welcoming and a real growth experience.” Because she knew the people involved, it made the procedure unusual—out of the 26 other applicants, many included the faculty Rhodus worked with.

Looking forward to learning and growing as she acquires the skill set needed to run the Lower School, Rhodus hopes to preserve the traditions that are important to the Lower School while working with Wargo on goals and improvements.

“I’m excited to make changes that will bring the Lower School forward,” she said. “I hope to continue with this great, positive feeling that has been brought by Peggy Bradley this year as interim head.”

Rhodus plans to serve as an example of a leader who achieves balance in her life while promoting it in the lives of those in the Lower School community. She plans to aid everyone in doing their best work while putting aside time to be with their families and engage in the activities they love.

As she moves into the next phase of her career, Rhodus aims to protect bonds with students that she holds so dear.

“The reason I became a teacher is because of the connection you have with your students. It’s the best part of teaching,” she said. “Since I’ve been offered this position, when doing little things like reading a story I think, ‘this is the last time I’m going to be reading this story to my class.’ The transition is bitter sweet, but it’s exciting. ”

Rhodus’s current second grade students laud her ability to connect to and engage with them during class.

“I want her to remember how much fun we had. I’m excited that we are the last class to get her, because she’s so much fun,” second grader Alexis said, “But I’m also sad that my sister and other people won’t get her.”

Second grader Victoria said that Rhodus will make a good Head of Lower School because “she will make good choices and things. And she’s just really fun.”

Noticing an increase in her reading level, Victoria points out that Rhodus has helped her most in that area this semester.

“I like how she reads—she tells us what words mean and what it would be like to be in the character’s shoes,” she said. “She’s funny, awesome, creative and one of my favorite teachers ever.”

Fortunately, through the administrative positions she has occupied, Rhodus has found that, even with the added administrative duties, she seeks out opportunities to work with the students.

Rhodus believes that her stint as a Hockaday student prepared her for the position she is about to undertake.

“I think starting in Lower School, Hockaday really does an outstanding job of showing girls what a leader looks like, how to speak in front of people and how to also listen,” she said. “I think teachers give students those leadership opportunities to practice, so I think even at a young age you start to identify yourself as a leader.”

Rhodus loves the Lower School because of the opportunity it presents to educators to help students build their identities.

“The Lower School is a really magical place. Being able to help a child learn, watch a child become curious about whatever it is that their interested in and bring them confidence is unbelievable,” she said. “Being around the enthusiasm makes it such a special place.”

Several years after leaving her classroom, Middle and Upper School students still reflect fondly on their experiences with Rhodus.

Fifth grader Riley believes she grew and learned most from Rhodus’s hands-on activities.

“We made pots in art and smashed them,” she said. “Mrs. Rhodus scattered the parts in the grass, and we had to find them like archaeologists. It was so much fun.”

Sophomore Anna enjoyed reading with Rhodus, explaining that enjoying stories together as a second grade class “really piqued her interest in reading.”

“She was one of those teachers that you want to have,” Anna  said. “I think she’ll be a really good head, because she’s really personable, and she gets along really well with kids.”

– Hailey