The 2010-2011 academic year marked the 225th Anniversary of Friends Seminary, a Quaker K-12 school in Manhattan. As part of the celebration, alumni and former teachers and staff gathered to reconnect with old friends, share memories, and see all the changes that have happened at Friends. StoryCorps was on hand to record some of these reunions and reminiscences.
One of the pairs who participated in StoryCorps was Ed Randolph and Rachel Jones. Ed started working at Friends in 1977 as a receptionist, one year before Rachel enrolled as a ninth grader. He learned a lot while on the job, especially about Quakerism. “I enjoyed the lifestyle of simplicity and not striving beyond your means,” he says. “Silent meeting was one of my favorite things here. Just to sit and be with yourself and be still.”
Ed remembered his job interview at Friends:
During the interview, they said ‘You’re going to have to say no to kids. Can you say no?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I have a son. She said, ‘And you say no to him?’ And I said ‘yeah.’ So I was hired as the receptionist. It was just a job. But what happened to me here, I didn’t expect at all.
Ed’s first assignment at Friends was to stop students from hanging out in the hallway, but Ed quickly became less of an enforcer and more of a counselor. “I felt comfortable talking to you,” Rachel told Ed. “You stated what you saw, and let me find my way into what was right without telling me what I should do.”
During his time at Friends, Ed enjoyed writing and composed poems for some of his favorite students, including Rachel. During his 18 years at Friends, Ed became more than the enforcer he was hired to be: He also became a friend and mentor to Rachel and many other students at Friends Seminary.