It was an exchange that could have happened (and no doubt did) in the Dana five-man where Coy Dailey ’01 and Rashad Randolph ’02 were roommates a decade ago.
Dailey: “Me and Mr. Randolph played basketball last night and my knee’s killing me.”
Randolph: “Want some cheese with that whine? Should I call whine-one-one?”
The room full of seventh-graders burst into laughter.
This was at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Randolph teaches Spanish and Dailey teaches math. The longtime friends never would have predicted they would end up colleagues—or that they would share a passion for education.
“I always thought I was going to go into sports marketing and public relations,” Randolph said. “I found out that I was able to connect with kids on a very real level.”
Dailey marvels at some of his mentors, and says that he learned a lot by team-teaching with great teachers. “But you will never be a master teacher,” he said. “In someone else’s eyes maybe, but in your own eyes you’re still trying to learn.”
A mathematical sciences major, Dailey began his career as a student-teacher in Waterville schools, where classroom theory was tested before a real, live audience. “That’s when you learn what teaching is,” he said. “No one can prepare you for that first day.”
At Colby he was one of the students who led the cheering section at basketball games and was a DJ at football games, where Randolph was a running back on a team that won the NESCAC championship.
“I was definitely an entertainer,” said Dailey, who also spent time in the Colby mascot costume. “Teaching is my way of being on stage.”
With stints teaching in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, his stage now is in front of the classroom at Packer, where, on the day a writer visited,
Dailey was teaching simple interest. “They’ve heard the term but they don’t know the term,” he said.
Students huddled over the problems projected by Dailey on a SmartBoard. If the amount goes from 256 to 288, what is the percent of change? “Vanessa, what did you get?” Vanessa replied, “I got twelve point five.” Dailey made sure she showed her work, part of a solid math foundation. Students brought receipts from home so they could calculate sales tax. They talked about tips at restaurants, how that represents an increase of a fixed percent. “I wanted you to see the real application of it,” Dailey said. “Things you do in your real life.”
Sitting off to the side was Señor Randolph, as he is known to his students. His real-life application may be for his students to speak Spanish in conversation, to order in Spanish at a restaurant. But for Randolph Spanish is more than a language.“It’s not just a way to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English,” he said. “But rather it’s a gateway to another society—to understand how someone from another culture thinks, how their societies function.”
Randolph had that experience in Colby’s Salamanca, Spain, program. He’s seen students have the same transformative school trips abroad. (He was to accompany Packer students to Andalusia this spring.) He also is committed to passing on his love for the language beyond the classroom.
That morning Randolph and his middle-schoolers spoke Spanish nonstop, the teacher coaxing and cajoling, moving from student
Randolph: Señor. Matematicas esta allí, en la frase de Manzana. Esto es la manera correcto.
Student: Correct it like this one.
Second student: Oooooh!
Randolph: Matematicas. Ma – te -…
Student: Oh! M-A-T-E
Randolph: Sí señor. MateMATicas. MateMATicas. Sí? Muy bien, gracias.
Student: Yo estudio matematicas mucho.
Randolph: ¿Qué estudias mucho, Silvio?
Randolph: ¿QUÉ estudias mucho? ¿QUÉ estudias mucho?
In recent years Randolph has taken his love for Spanish to the the Monterey Middlebury Language Academy (MMLA), where he taught in the language programs for high school students. This summer he’ll direct one of MMLA’s language academies, at Wofford College in South Carolina.
“When students see you care a lot about the subject you’re teaching, that you actually love it, they feel that in the classroom,” Randolph said.
He and Dailey aren’t the only Colby alumni “representing” at the school. Judy Turner Jones ’65 is the Packer librarian and Amy Montemerlo Peters ’99 teaches English in the high school and is advisor to the school newspaper. Dailey and Randolph say they share their affection for Colby, telling students how much they enjoyed and learned from their college experience. “On Fridays, kids run around screaming, ‘Blue team pride!’” Randolph said, referring to the Colby football motto. “They know that Coy and I are so close and we had such a good time in college.
“They ask me, ‘Mr. Dailey, was he like, awesome?’ I say, ‘Actually, Mr. Dailey was the mule.’”