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The Milton Measure

Mr. Ruiz Reflects on First Year as Dean of Students

by on Friday, June 7th, 2013

As José Ruiz’s first year at Milton Academy as the new Dean of Students comes to a close, he reflected on some of his meaningful moments at Milton thus far and shared some of his regrets in an interview with the Milton Measure.

When considering his transition to Milton Academy, Mr. Ruiz says, “I’ve enjoyed it; in many ways it’s been everything I wanted it to be professionally.” The satisfaction with this new job is not just his own: the move “from a family standpoint was good,” Ruiz explains. “My kids have settled into the community very well. They’ve taken a liking to many students, particularly some of the girls in Robbins…My wife is enjoying the community as well.”

Coming to Milton, Mr. Ruiz had some expectations, saying, “I expected our students to be bright.” He remarks that Milton “has lived up to the perception from the outside world. I’ve been pleased with that. Our students are extremely bright, articulate, and thoughtful.” For José Ruiz, being surrounded by intellectual Milton students has “been one of the best parts of the year so far.”

Before arriving at Milton, Mr. Ruiz knew the size of the school, but “seeing it for its numbers and then actually experiencing the school are two very different things.” Coming from fellow ISL school St. Mark’s, which has an upper school of about 350 students, “it was easy to say that Milton is a big school, but what had been surprising is how much bigger it feels…looking at students and trying to recall in your memory banks all the different faces I’ve met and the names I’ve come across– that’s been very different than I thought it would be.”

Through many new experiences, Mr. Ruiz says,“the ISL [basketball] girls’ and boys’ tournaments were definitely one of the highlights for me.” He will always remember the “students out there supporting each other, celebrating a good moment when the boys won the ISL…the number of students that came out that wanted to be with their peers and rooting them on.” Over the year, Mr. Ruiz has really delighted in “the musical performances…just watching both students singing and playing instruments. The level of sophisticated music that they take on has been very impressive.”

Although Mr. Ruiz has seen many great things, he still has many regrets, the greatest of which is that he didn’t get to know students as well as he wanted to. Mr. Ruiz explains that upon his arrival, ”one of my biggest goals was to try and be as much of a presence in the student community as possible and I think I’ve been able to do that in some ways, but I don’t think I’ve been successful at that. I didn’t realize how quickly my schedule gets full and that’s the hard part.”

Even though his schedule did not give him a lot of flexibility, between teaching two sections of Senior Transitions Classes, attending sports games whenever possible, and spending time with Norris House boys, Mr. Ruiz attempted to reach out to the student body as best he could. For example, Ruiz explained, “I tried to be a presence in the dorm. I’m a house advisor and I have 5 freshmen [advisees]… I try to make sit down meals there whenever I can.”

“Part of my summer project is thinking ‘Okay, what can I do better next year?’” says Mr. Ruiz. No longer a new faculty member, Mr. Ruiz will have many advantages that he didn’t have this year. He hopes he will “[be] much more familiar with faces…[and] understand the rhythm of the school.” He says, “For next year, [I am] trying to find a balance in terms of the number of meetings versus what I feel is my role to be present with students.”

Mr. Ruiz has many ideas for the 2013-2014 school year, including being more involved with culture clubs. “Clearly, students are involved in a lot of activities here, [and going] to those meetings would be great—just to sit in and listen to what students are interested in and what they are talking about in their respective meetings, organizations, and clubs.” Another way Mr. Ruiz wants to understand the student body is by possibly shadowing students next year. He wants to see “what the academic experience might be like for students.” As Dean of Students, he thinks it is important to understand, “the day-to-day life of a student…I feel like if I sample a group of students… it will give me a flavor of what students are going through.”

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Posted by on Jun 7 2013. Filed under News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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