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

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Vincent Rutuelo Leaves Poly After 18 Years

Poly Profiles

After 18 years as Poly Prep’s Head of Security, Vincent Rutuelo has left Poly to join the North Shore Hebrew Academy as its Head of Security and Head of Operations.

Rutuelo was brought aboard as the first head of security in Poly’s history. He had previously worked in the NYPD and been the Head of Security at The Spence School — only the second Head of Security to be hired in the history of New York City independent schools. While at Spence, he built the security system from the ground up. When he came to Poly, he did the same. 

During his tenure, Rutuelo implemented significant changes to both of the Poly campuses. He added a tracking system to all the school buses carrying Poly students so that he could get live updates on their status. Rutuelo added: “When I first started here, we had 11 buses and now the operation is 47 buses big. We have the largest bus fleet out of the independent schools,” he said. Rutuelo also implemented a new lock system on the doors in the school, added the PA system for fire drills, and expanded the security system generally at the Poly Lower School. “We brought the school into the 21st century as far as security is concerned,” Rutuelo said, “[a]nd there’s a lot of [other] stuff that most people outside of here don’t know [about], which we don’t want to communicate because that’s what makes us secure.” 

Despite all of his accomplishments, there was one thing Rutuelo had always dreamed of: controlling the operations at the school in addition to being Head of Security. That opportunity arose suddenly this fall.  

Following a recent rise in anti-semitism, North Shore Hebrew Academy, a four-campus Jewish Day School in Great Neck Long Island, was looking to step up their security by adding one person in charge of both operations and security. “I’ll say it this way: If you had to build a job for yourself. Every box was checked off; it was everything that I’ve always wanted,” Rutuelo said. Though he had no intention of leaving Poly, Rutuelo said the job came up suddenly in October and he couldn’t turn it down: “This whole thing happened about three weeks ago. The position was offered to me quickly and I went through the process and I was offered the position.” Rutuelo officially left Poly on November 16.

Rutuelo’s new position at North Shore Hebrew Academy includes ensuring that things like heating, lights, and air conditioning are working properly. “You’re dealing with all the other components that make the school able to operate on a day-to-day basis. I’m excited about taking on that challenge,” Rutuelo said. Additionally, the commute is much simpler for Rutuelo, who lives in Long Island. Whereas Rutuelo previously had to wake up at 4:15 a.m. to travel over two hours both to and from Poly, he will now only have to travel 15 minutes to get to North Shore Hebrew Academy. 

As for campus security at Poly moving forward, Salvatore (Sal) Bonaventura, who has been at Poly for eight years (two years at the Lower School and six years at the Upper School), is stepping up as the Director of Security, and Xerxes Vizcaino, who has been a security guard at Poly for 15 years, is stepping up as associate director of security. Rutuelo’s position as Head of Security will remain unfilled as the whole department collectively learns how to manage the budgetary side of the role. Rutuelo assured that the security of Poly will be safe in their hands: “[It’ll be] two people that have been around here a long time and have been involved in every aspect of all the security upgrades that this school has. They’ve been part of the entire process, so they know what’s going on [in] all the projects that are sitting here waiting to go into [their] next phases. So I don’t see any gap in security here.” Executive Assistant to the Head of School Kristen Lizzi, who worked closely with Rutuelo on the bus system, will continue to assist with the buses as long as she is needed.

Bonaventura — who is a retired police officer, 9/11 first responder, and has also worked as a security guard for high-profile celebrities — is ready to step up into his new role. He has already organized, through a New York City security program, three more privately hired security officers to come onboard at Poly, free of charge, bringing the total number of security officers from 15 to 18 for the near future. Bonaventura also hopes to add a separate department solely for buses at Poly sometime in the future. “We could definitely justify adding somebody to do at least the administrative part. It would take a little bit of the load off of us,” Bonaventura said. 


Bonaventura plans to bring Vizcaino from the Lower School back to the Dyker Heights campus. “They’re going to miss him because I will be taking him over here,” Bonaventura joked, “but I will try to do it as gingerly as possible.” He is hoping he will be here at the latest after winter break. Bonaventura said Lizzi, who has extensive knowledge about the bus routes, is also helping the team get situated in their new positions. Bonaventura said he plans to stay at Poly (which he referred to as the best place he ever worked) for a long time and says Rutuelo left it in a great spot for the future. As a former officer, he feels confident in the new role, stating “There’s nothing that could happen here that [I] haven’t been through.” 

As for his plans for the future, Bonaventura shared that he wants the 7th Avenue entrance to have an automatic front gate so that the guards don’t have to get up to open and close it all the time. He also plans to expand the security camera system at Poly, which already has over 120 cameras. “I would say the cameras are 97 percent effective as far as when there is a problem.” Bonaventura also wants to add a monitor system to his office, which would allow him to keep tabs on the school while working. “This is what I used to do most of the year. When I wasn’t walking around I was in the office watching the screen.” He also wants to add a vehicle for the security guards to travel in around campus so that they can get to places faster. Other than that, he said “any changes we make will be for the betterment of the community.”

Despite the intensity of his new position, Bonaventura does not want to lose his lighthearted youthfulness: “I picture myself as a kid. I remember when I went to school, you’d get some teachers and some staff who were nasty. I try to be nice. I try to have a good relationship with [the students]. I know a lot of the kids on a first-name basis, and they still call me Sal, which is fine. I’m not big into titles.”

Vizcaino is also ready to step up to the task: “It’s like riding a bike for the first time without training wheels (Mr. Rutuelo) to help you out. Now that the training wheels are off, we need to continue to ride with the knowledge we have gained. I’m grateful Mr. Rutuelo set up the department really well, so we just have to continue his work and implement improvements as we see fit,” he said in an email interview. 

Vizcaino also added that students should not be afraid to introduce themselves to the new staff: “I also want everyone to know that we are approachable,” he said. “When you see anyone in the security department walking the halls, at games, or shows, please say hello! We want everyone to know that we are here for you.”

Despite his physical departure, Rutuelo is not permanently saying goodbye to Poly. The school is allowing Rutuelo’s email to stay activated so that he can be reached in the event of any important happenings. Rutuelo planned out all his security initiatives in five year increments, and plans to carefully monitor and see through the ones that are currently on-going so that he can ensure they are executed correctly.

Poly staff and faculty were effusive in their praise of Rutuelo. Bonaventura described Rutuelo as a great mentor and friend. “We both had the same mentality because we both came up through the same New York City Police Department. So we were always on the same wavelength,” he said. “I miss him. Coming here and working with him was fun again. I laughed a lot,” he said. 

Interim Head of School John Rankin said: “He was honest, really clear, always direct, and he saw his job here really as doing service. Poly wasn’t just a job to him — he wanted to be here and support the community, and make the place as safe as he possibly could. Before I had this role I never even thought about security, but he was always friendly with me and always stopped to talk to me.” 

Lizzi, who has worked closely with Rutuelo for a number of years, also shared her regards for Rutuelo. “No matter how busy he was, he always made time for other people.” Lizzi added that many people had emailed to express their sadness about his departure. “We put a book together for him. I think it was a surprise to him, that people were so sad that he was going,” she said.

Rutuelo said that he will dearly miss the Poly community, especially the friends he has made over the last 18 years. “The Poly community is a very unique one. It takes me over two plus hours to get home, and my wife keeps asking ‘What is it about Poly Prep?’ I said ‘It’s hard to explain. You’d have to work there to understand.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Polygon: The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *