The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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John Rankin Becomes Interim Head of School


This school year, a significant change in leadership has taken place at Poly, as former Head of School Audrius Barzdukas stepped down from his position last year. In the wake of his departure, the school appointed John Rankin, philosophy teacher and former academic dean, English Department chair, and assistant head of school, as the interim head of school to guide Poly through this new transitional period. 

 It is currently Rankin’s 40th year at Poly and his long tenure at the school was a clear factor towards him being such a strong candidate for the role, given he brings with him a wealth of experience in both administrative and teaching positions, according to Head of Upper School Sarah Bates. “I’m sure when the board was looking at what would make the most sense in terms of leadership for this year, his name and his experience came to the top,” said Bates.

In an email statement released by Rankin at the beginning of the year, he expressed his commitment to fostering a spirit of collaboration and open dialogue amongst the Poly community. “My excitement for assuming this role has only grown with each conversation that I have with faculty, staff, alumni, and parents, which has served as a steadfast reminder of the bright future in store for our community… As we work together to enact the plan, collaboration is critical to shaping the future of our school and its students,” wrote Rankin. 

As Head of School, Rankin is in charge of all the Poly schools: Lower, Middle, and Upper. However, he said he plans to use his experience as a teacher to contribute to his current role, and towards making the teacher experience even better. Coming into this school year, Rankin hopes to focus on what Poly as a school has to offer and create a focus on teachers and teaching.

“We have to strengthen our course and we have to make our teaching and our programs, and all of that, as strong as it can be…If you ask what’s the most important quality to have in a school, people say curriculum, great teaching, a great education experience. That’s my first priority,” said Rankin.

It is for this reason, and because he still enjoys teaching, that Rankin continues to teach a senior philosophy seminar class, despite all of his other commitments.  

Shriya Nanduru, a senior currently taking Rankin’s philosophy seminar, said, “He’s good at engaging the class and he brings up topics that are always interesting, he knows how to appeal to the class, and he seems really experienced in teaching philosophy. It’s really nice that our head of school is teaching. It’s great to be in a class with him and feel so much more connected.” 

“What I can say about Mr. Rankin is that he is a teacher first and foremost. In fact, he’s our first head of school in my time here that is still teaching, which I think says a lot about his commitment to the students first and foremost, and his commitment to the classroom… and also his commitment to the faculty here,” said Bates.

Rankin is the interim head of school, and as such the search for a new and permanent Head of School to replace Barzdukas is largely underway. According to Bates, the first course of action was to put together a search committee, as well as team up with and hire a search firm. Poly is currently using the search firm Carney Sandoe to lead the search for a new Head of School. 

One of the search team’s first tasks once hired was to walk through the school and do a complete and thorough evaluation of the climate and environment at Poly. They held a variety of faculty drop-ins and spoke to administration, teachers, and students, and now they must come up with a position description for the Head of School based on the things that they saw. This position description, according to Bates, will be “a multi-page job description showcasing the school, showcasing the opportunities for the new Head of School, the challenges that they may face, and then a list of personal professional qualifications.” This job description will then be posted publicly, and the firm will begin taking resumes, according to Bates. 

After many rounds of going through resumes, they’ll contact a final group of candidates who they will then send to the search committee, composed of Poly faculty, staff, and trustees, to interview the remaining candidates for the job. After a final narrowing down, the finalists will be invited onto campus for a few days, and finally the decision of who to hire will be made.

According to the “Head of School Search” section on the Poly Prep website, “[Poly intends] to have a new Head of School in place for the start of the 2024-25 school year, but finding the perfect candidate who reflects, represents, and galvanizes our amazing community is our priority above all else.”

For the time being, though, Poly is fully prepared to be led by Rankin until a new Head of School is established starting next year.

Junior Hannah Goldberg said “I think that, so far, Mr. Rankin has done a good job this year. We’ve heard him speak at a few events, and I’m looking forward to seeing his impacts for the rest of the year.” 

“We’re in good hands going forward as we wait for an extra permanent leader. Mr. Rankin’s wealth of experience, commitment to students, and commitment to the adults on campus is going to serve us exceptionally well this year,” said Bates. 

It’s a new year and I think it’s a great chance to emphasize all of the things that Poly’s done well,” said Rankin. 

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About the Contributor
Jess Dosik, Editor-in-Chief
Jess Dosik is the current Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Polygon and she is currently a senior. She began her career on the Polygon in her freshman year as a staff writer, and then went on to become the News Editor during her Junior year. Her favorite articles to write have been large in-depth news stories on a range of topics, her favorite being her story on the history of Co-Education at Poly. She also enjoys writing profiles on people and learning m about other people's unique stories and experiences. Apart from the Polygon, Jess has written for an outside journalism publication. She is also a musician in the advanced concert band, a peer tutor, president of medical club, a blue key ambassador, and more! 

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