Ned and Carol Randolph have traveled the globe.
From Cuba to Singapore, France to Ireland, the married couple took advantage of their open summers as teachers with the Puyallup School District.
“That’s a good thing about being a teacher — you really have the time,” said Ned, 54.
Ned, who teaches fourth grade at Shaw Road Elementary, and Carol, who teaches fifth and sixth grades at Maplewood Elementary, brought their experiences back to the classroom.
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“I love to talk about the world and where our place is in the world,” said Carol, 60.
I love to talk about the world and where our place is in the world.
But after a combined 40 years of teaching in the Puyallup School District, the couple are retiring at the end of the school year.
It’s time for a new adventure.
The decision was a bittersweet one. While both Ned and Carol said they love working with their students, they’re also both feeling the strain of standardized testing.
“Teaching is becoming a harder profession,” Ned said. “There is less joy in it, the more we test students. So one thing I look forward to is not working so hard.”
Education had always been important to both Ned and Carol, growing up. Ned was raised in Colorado, learning to ski in the mountains. He became a National Telemark Champion, and for 13 years worked as a mountain guide at Mount Rainier — his own kind of teaching.
“Teaching has always been in the back of my mind,” he said.
Teaching has always been in the back of my mind.
It was at Crystal Mountain that he met Carol, who had gotten a part-time job there through a friend.
“I see Ned all the way across the room and I said, ‘Who is that?’ And he’d said the same thing about me,” remembered Carol.
Carol is a Cuban immigrant and refugee who was born in Cuba in 1957, a few years before Fidel Castro rose to power. Carol’s father, Henry, was an architect who designed the first Jewish synagogue in Cuba.
As Cuba began to feel more unsafe for their family, Carol’s mother and father attempted to leave with their four children — but were stopped at the airport.
“They said I couldn’t go because my paperwork wasn’t in order,” Carol said.
Carol’s grandmother assured her parents that she’d take care of the children in their absence.
For a year, Carol, who was at the time 4 years old and the eldest sibling, didn’t see her parents, and had no communication with them. At night, she imagined her mother would come to visit her. All the while, Carol’s grandmother, who’d been a teacher in Cuba for 30 years, raised the siblings.
“She was the one who taught me how to be an independent woman,” Carol said.
Carol is a Cuban immigrant who came to Tacoma when she was four years old, weeks before Cuba’s Bay of Pigs Invasion.
From Cuba, Carol’s parents flew to Jamaica, where they sold some jewelry, and flew to England. Carol’s father then applied to jobs all over the world. One was offered to him in Tacoma — and he took it.
It was there that Carol and her siblings were finally reunited with her parents, just weeks before the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba.
“I’ll never forget the day we landed in the SeaTac Airport,” Carol said. “I see these two people, and they’re running, and they just collapse face-down on the tarmac.”
Now, Carol tells her story at the beginning of every school year to her new students.
“I always tell my class what happened to me,” Carol said. “And I tell them that education was the only thing that was not taken from my family. To me, education was the biggest gift I could give the world.”
I always tell my class what happened to me. And I tell them that education was the only thing that was not taken from my family. To me, education was the biggest gift I could give the world.
Carol and Ned were married in 1992, around the same time Carol started teaching in Puyallup. Ned became a teacher several years later.
After they retire, they plan to move to Reno, Nevada, to be closer with Carol’s two daughters from a previous marriage and the couple’s grandchildren.
“I’ve taken care of everyone else’s children for 25 years — now I’m going to take care of my own,” Carol said.
Staff at Maplewood and Shaw Road elementary schools are planning a retirement party for the couple from 4 to 6 p.m. June 15 at Maplewood Elementary School, 1110 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup.