Lawrence Central counselor's survival story is students' inspiration
It's spring break for many area schools, a time for students to escape from the demands of the classroom. At one metro area high school, one volunteer is helping students deal with life's stresses in part by enduring his own challenges.
For nearly twenty years, Kenny Randle has been an inspiring presence at Lawrence Central High School. He'll greet incoming students with a smile and a handshake, and some quick conversation about their day ahead.
He now serves as a volunteer mentor after years of teaching physical education and health.
Jordan Easton is a senior at Lawrence Central.
"He's a very nice, warm, kind-hearted person. Like if you're having a bad day, he's that person that will pick you up," said Jordan.
Senior John Jones told us, "Say you got a problem at school. You talk to him, he'll calm you down, give you good advice about things."
Kenny Randle will stop and talk with students who may just be having a bad day, or dealing with a larger crisis at home. In his small office in the counseling offices, he shows us a photo of his wife, his son and his daughter.
"Bring my kids in, and I always show my family. Because my family is so important for me," he said.
He talks about his role with students here. "We take care of them. They're fragile to us. Their lives are fragile but we take care of them," he said.
On his office door is a sign that says, "It's hard to be big when 'little' gotcha." Kenny knows all about dealing with big challenges.
"I ended up having a liver transplant. Right after that, I had a brain tumor. And I had surgery on that after being successful on my liver transplant which I am so grateful and thankful to be here."
We asked him how his own personal challenges allow him to help his students.
"It's given me determination and inspiration, because I get inspiration from them. I let them know that they're my medicine," he said.
Suzanne Oakes is a counselor at Lawrence Central. "Kenny's a walking miracle. So if he can survive what he's survived, then they can get their homework turned in on time, or they can deal with whatever they've got going on at home."
Teachers and students say it's that kind of kindness and encouragement that can make all the difference in their outlook and future.