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: The Little Things

Sophia Chamorro
Mr. Rankin’s Cat

If John Rankin had an entire Sunday to himself (which is currently very rare), he would spend it the following way: First, he would wake up early, walk outside in the crisp morning air, and buy a coffee—a black coffee, specifically. “It’s more convenient,” Rankin laughed. “But you have to be really discriminating about the taste because once you put cream in it, it all tastes the same.” Following coffee, Rankin would go home, read from various philosophy, literature, or history texts, and then go to brunch. This brunch would last around two hours. 

“My father was a military officer,” said Rankin, Poly Prep’s current Interim Head of School. Due to his father’s occupation, Rankin grew up all over the map. He spent his childhood years in the Netherlands and in the United States between Arizona and the West Coast. Rankin’s family settled in Ohio, where they remained for nearly a decade. “What was I like in high school?” Rankin asked, “I have always been a little bit of a loner and…a reader, so I would spend a lot of time like that.” He played some sports here and there, but books were his primary companions.

Rankin attended the University of Dayton for college where he had a professor who was highly influential on him. This professor was from New York, and frequently shared about his love for the city.  “There was always this thing I wanted to do about New York,” he said. “It was partially intentional and partially because of these circumstances.”  

For ten years, Rankin has had a cat named Montcrieff. Rankin made sure to point out that Montcrieff does not know that his name is Montcrieff. People usually refer to the cat as “you” or “the cat.” Named after an imaginary character in an Oscar Wilde play, Montcrieff is a tabby cat. Hes about 12 or 13 years old, and spends his days doing laps up and down the stairs. 

Partially stemming from his love of reading, Rankin hoped to pursue a career in writing. He realized in his twenties that writing was not necessarily a stable career. Teaching had always interested him, so he attended graduate school at Columbia University and began teaching English at Poly Prep in 1985. 

Rankin’s talent took him far within Poly. According to the Poly Prep website, Rankin served as the advisor for The Polygon, an academic dean, assistant head of school, and was twice named a New York State Outstanding Teacher. In 2020, Rankin created the school’s inaugural Grade 12 Philosophy Seminar. 

Justin Mondesir ’23, who took Rankin’s philosophy seminar as a senior, recalls his professor’s passion for the subject. “There was a very intriguing quality about him. Sometimes, it feels like teachers are just teaching to teach, but with Mr. Rankin, you could tell how much he cared about the material and that he actually wanted us to learn it,” he said.

“Poly is taking up most of my free time these days,” Rankin laughed. “I still like to exercise a lot. I am still a reader.” Rankin emphasized that he has never been too “consumed by technology, media, or television.” Rather, he labels himself as a “film buff.” He was previously completely enamored with European films, especially French films, but he has now come around to American productions.

Rankin was heavily leaning towards retiring from his teaching in 2023, but when the Board of Trustees proposed the interim head of school position, he was convinced to stay at Poly. “Right now, I am just going to see how it goes,” said Rankin. “I think there is a strong chance I will just retire after this tenure happens,”he added. It is safe to say that Montcrieff would approve of that decision.” 

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About the Contributor
Reese Roaman, Sports Editor
After two years of writing news pieces for the Polygon, Reese has joined the staff as a sports editor for her Junior year. During her Sophomore year, Reese was enrolled in Intro to Journalism, where she discovered a love for writing profiles and investigative journalism. Aside from writing for the Polygon, Reese is the Director of Marketing for Model UN, a working group leader for Women Affinity, a student government representative, blue key ambassador, polyglot contributor, triple season athlete, member of acapella, and an avid water drinker. Outside the Poly campus, Reese enjoys begging her parents for a dachshund and rating food.

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