When we begin our new school year this fall, we will do so without one of our dearest coworkers, Mrs. Sylvia Ray, who elected to retire this summer. When I started at Randolph Academy three years ago, one of my first memories on Day One was Mrs. Ray’s smiling face, as she came to my room to introduce herself. She let me know if I ever needed anything that she was just across the hall, and all I had to do was knock. Well, I have knocked on that door countless times over the past three years – for advice, to chat, or to just say hello. I may have even knocked to help her with a computer issue or two. Every time, I was greeted with her cheerful, “Hi!” and that trademarked big smile!
Throughout Mrs. Ray’s time with us, she has had four different offices, worked with hundreds of outstanding coworkers, and had thousands of students pass through her door. As a counselor, she has guided mainly middle school students through the struggles of adolescence. When she was honored with our Career Achievement award this past fall, the presenters noted that her biggest strength is relationship building, and that she has served as a sounding board and support for innumerable parents who were facing difficult parenting challenges.
Over the years, Mrs. Ray’s relationships with students and coworkers resulted in many wonderful memories. She looks back fondly on several counselors who would bring their dogs to work. She loved working in an environment where the occasional prank was appreciated. She remembers leading mental health trainings at the local American Legion and bonding with her fellow counselors for other out-of-office activities. These included completing a ropes course, a “leap of faith,” and even a zip line – which collectively they dubbed their “out-of-body experiences.” Of course, not every day was fun, and that’s part of the challenges during any career. One memory that especially sticks with her even today is the attacks of 9/11. “I’ll never forget that. There was a TV on upstairs, and we all saw the second tower go down (live).” But on the whole, she says, Randolph Academy has simply been a fun place to work!
As far as future plans, nothing is set in stone yet for Mrs. Ray. She looks forward to enjoying her coffee on her deck, reading, doing yardwork, and spending some winter time in Florida with her family. Above all, she is happy to have the free time to spend with her son and grandchildren! She looks forward to watching her grandson wrestle and her granddaughter perform gymnastics. All of us at Randolph Academy will think fondly and often of our coworker and dear friend. Chance made us coworkers, but the fun and laughter made us friends. We wish her nothing but the best and we will miss her dearly! Good Luck, “Sea-Ray!”