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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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Sunday Routine: Ms. Bates

Sunday+Routine%3A+Ms.+Bates
VIA POLY PREP DIRECTORY

Head of Upper School Sarah Bates explained that she has become “pretty protective” over her Sunday routine, which is centered around decompressing from the past week, enjoying family time, watching soccer, and recentering herself for the week ahead. “I’m notoriously an early riser, but I try to sleep in a bit as much as I can on the weekends,” Bates explained, laughing. “That usually means I’m up at seven.” On weekdays, Bates is awake by five in the morning.

“I then take my dog (Bird) for an extra long walk, so I usually walk her for at least an hour, even if the weather’s bad, just because there’s no one out on Sunday mornings,” said Bates. “And it’s a really, really peaceful time. I live in Williamsburg, which usually means that people are out-and-about until very late Saturday into Sunday. But [that time] is just really nice and super quiet.”

During these walks, with an AirPod in only one ear, Bates takes this time to listen to music. “I have a bunch of different playlists that I’ve added to and I continue to add to over the years,” said Bates. “I actually have a playlist called Sunday Morning, which is a lo-fi mix, so sometimes I’ll put that on. Sometimes I’ll listen to a bit of like a heady philosophical podcast.” While on weekday mornings Bates listens to news-focused podcasts, she enjoys listening to “something with a little bit more stuff” on Sundays, recommending Krista Tippet’s piece called On Being.

Bates, a huge EPL (English Premier League) soccer fan, centers her Sunday mornings around these games, specifically when her team, Arsenal, is playing. Arsenal is one of the better teams in the league, but even when they aren’t playing, Bates still enjoys the drama and thrill of EPL Sundays.

“Even when it’s two kind of crappy teams, I’m sort of hooked in. But if it’s not a game I particularly care about, I’m usually cleaning, hanging out, just sometimes even reading about all the games in the background.”

Bates, an avid coffee enthusiast, will spend time on a Sunday “not just making a random pot of coffee, but making something in the French press.”  She might also visit Caffé Lilia, explaining that, while the restaurant is well-known, “What people don’t know is that they have a cafe and amazing bakery. So sometimes I’ll walk over there, either with a dog or with my partner Mike, [and] grab a nice cup of coffee and a croissant or something. And I treat myself a little bit.”

“I might also meet up with friends for lunch, although I’m usually doing something with my immediate family, which is my dog [and] my partner —whether that’s just…wandering around Williamsburg or going to check out a new art exhibit,” Bates explained. “If the weather’s not great, we’ll go see a movie somewhere; we’re just sort of in relaxation mode.”

While Bates is far too busy in the week to have family meals often, laughing while she remarked on the pot of chili that became dinner leftovers for days after its creation, cooking a nice dinner on Sunday is an essential part of her routine. “Mike is like an 80-year-old man in a 40-year-old body. He loves 60 Minutes. So we’ll usually watch 60 Minutes, like a retired old couple honestly,” Bates laughed. After that, Bates and her partner take some time to watch TV. “Whatever’s on HBO at the time, we’re watching,” said Bates, citing Succession and Euphoria as favorites.

When asked about the balance between her work and personal life, Bates said that she turns email notifications off over the weekend. “I learned that a long, long time ago. But especially coming out of Covid, where I worked for two full years straight through every weekend, seven days a week, through the summers.”

“Last year, I announced to the faculty [that] between the hours of 5 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Monday, I don’t check my email. I do not open it. I don’t check it,” she explained, stressing her need for time to relax and reset on the weekends after a very demanding schedule.

Bates’s official title at Poly is the “head of Upper School,” but many students might not know what exactly that title entails. Bates told the Polygon that she is “responsible for the three main constituencies of Poly: students first and foremost, then all the Upper School faculty, and then all of the parents. So when you have 664 kids plus all of their parents, it’s roughly about 1000 people, faculty, and staff that I supervise.” That’s a lot of people for one person to oversee. “It’s wishful thinking to think that everybody is having a good day every day. There’s always going to be something going on that needs my attention,” said Bates.

She emphasizes the importance of being a “people person” in her position, as she often communicates with parents and the Board of Trustees while making sure, as she puts it, “Poly remains and continues to grow in terms of its academic profile in a very competitive New York environment, while also helping to maintain what is good and what we love about it.” Bates’ role, being as important as it is, constitutes a lot of pressure leading to a very busy schedule. If you’ve ever tried to schedule a meeting with her, then we’re sure you’ve seen the never-ending “busy” blocks in her Google calendar.

Bates, a University of Florida alumni majoring in political science, taught in Florida before moving to New York to finish her master’s degree. She was originally hired at Poly as an interim history teacher, then transitioned to a variety of leadership roles: first, the dean of student life, then an Upper School dean, and finally she accepted her current position as the head of Upper School.

Beginning her time at Poly as a teacher and taking part in this environment every day, Bates had built many strong bonds with members of the faculty. It was challenging to uphold those relationships while undertaking the responsibility of her new position. “That was hard for me, I think, in terms of just making sure that I was first and foremost maintaining the professionalism that is necessary of my position — it’s not that I lost friends; it was just that our relationship changed,” said Bates.

Bates also described missing the classroom setting: “Just the organic nature of what we can do in a class together. That’s why I became an educator. And then when I moved into my current position in 2019, I contemplated going back into the classroom but knew that my attention was going to be divided in ways that wouldn’t be fair either to my position or certainly to the students,” said Bates.

However, while Bates’ position has taken her out of a teaching position in the classroom, it hasn’t stopped her eagerness to learn and absorb everything being taught in the environment around her. “You know, I think one of the things that I love about this job is, especially for someone like me, that I just love learning things I find myself continually amazed by,” she explained. “I could walk into any classroom at any part of the day and be learning about the Protestant Reformation or some calculus theorem. I’m literally surrounded by learning all the time, and it’s great for someone who loves to soak that all up. That’s my favorite part of the job. Class visits and checking in…. that’s something I’m really going to be more intentional about [after] my return from winter break.”

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About the Contributors
Kayvan Dyk, Sports Editor
Kayvan Dyk joined the Polygon his freshman year, and has been writing (primarily sports) articles ever since. He is now in his junior year and a current sports editor. Kayvan has been playing football at Poly since his freshman year and started running track last year as a sophomore. In his free time, Kayvan enjoys hanging out with his friends and family, eating chipotle, skiing, and listening to music. 
Sadie Schoenberger, Arts Editor
Sadie Schoenberger 25' is the current Arts Editor for Polygon. Aside from Polygon, she spends her time involving herself in the Arts- taking Dance and Film & Video, and Assistant Directing the Upper School Musical. Sadie is also one of the Class of 25's elected Class Representatives and Deputy Editor for the Morning Devil. In her junior year she looks forward to continuing these roles as well as spending time doing film, specifically screenwriting and directing. When she is not hunched over her computer, she can almost always be found in Commons with her friends.

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