Mrs. Rodriguez reflects on her new role as interim Head of School


Suzanne Kores/RE Communications

Mrs. Rodriguez said one of her top priorities is creating a stronger sense of community after the pandemic.

After an eventful 16-year tenure of leading the Ransom Everglades Middle School, Mrs. Rachel Rodriguez knew when the right time had come to step away.   

Now, in her new role as Interim Head of School, Mrs. Rodriguez is delighted to return to RE, albeit in a different way. As soon as she got the call asking her to return, her answer was an immediate yes. According to Mrs. Rodriguez, the “quality of the leadership team and faculty being as high as it is” persuaded her to return. She also noted the work ethic of Ransom Everglades students, specifically “how the students have become such deep thinkers in very complex fields.”  

At the same time, she also recognized that the new role would be different—in part because of the differences between Upper School and Middle School students. “Middle schoolers require a different kind of supervision, and the administration looks to nurture ideas before they actually materialize,” said Mrs. Rodriguez. This is different from the Upper School, she added, where students pave the way for themselves and those around them to succeed later on in life.  

Another difference that Mrs. Rodriguez pointed out between Middle and Upper School students is the level of interaction with teachers. Rodriguez mentioned that “in the Middle School, students would oftentimes feel scared around faculty, whereas in the Upper School, the students are much more mature and independent, leading to more comprehensive interactions with teachers.”  

Mrs. Rodriguez pointed out a clear example of this difference: the house systems on both campuses. At the Upper School, SGA took complete control of the organization of the house system. Conversely, the Middle School house system was developed by faculty and leadership.  

Nevertheless, recognizing the differences between the two campuses has allowed Mrs. Rodriguez to see more clearly where the whole community can come together—and what she can do to facilitate a sense of unity.   

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, the most important thing for the school to accomplish is a complete sense of community. “Community is arguably the most important aspect of school. We should focus on being joyful, learning lessons from Covid, and appreciating the collaborative and uplifting environment that school offers,” she said. 

During the pandemic, isolation took away many key connections that the students had with the school and classmates. Mrs. Rodriguez noted several initiatives by SGA and the Wellness Board looking to achieve the tough task of bringing the RE community together, including the expansion of Wellness Wednesdays, the House system, and nutrition programs.   

Rodriguez also hopes to focus on supporting the development of new curricula that will be relevant to student interests—no matter how niche those interests are. She cited Advanced Machine Learning and Applied Ethics in the Humanities as two courses that cater to diverse interests in STEM and Humanities.  

In addition to Mrs. Rodriguez and Associate Head of School Dr. John King, the core leadership team now includes Mr. David Clark, Ransom Everglades’ new Chief Operating Officer and Interim Head of the Upper School. Mr. Clark stressed the importance of “recognizing that things are changing noticeably for the better. Whether it be expanding lunch hours, altering the dress code to adapt to requests from students, or moving exams back, our administration has a clear vision and is doing things in the best interest of the school,” he said.  

On a similar note, he reflected on his perspective working alongside Mrs. Rodriguez in preparation for the upcoming school year. Specifically, he felt a “major improvement regarding our ability to respond to the community through calls, emails, or meetings.”