Ruiz Moves Closer to Family, Departs From MacDuffie

Ian Hua, Co-Editor in Chief

Assistant Head of School David Ruiz will not be returning to MacDuffie in the fall of 2020. In July, he will begin working as the Dean of Student Life at Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine. 

Ruiz and his wife, Nelida Torres-Ruiz, are moving to be closer to a part of their family; two of their children became new parents in March and April. 

“When we got the news we had made a decision that we would try to get close to one of them, so I started to look for opportunities for my wife and I to be closer to one of our grandchildren,” Ruiz said. Ruiz’s son lives in Maryland, and his daughter lives in Maine, where Ruiz ultimately accepted a new position. 

The process was difficult considering the closure of many schools during the coronavirus pandemic. The decision itself did not come easily either, due to Ruiz’s own connection to MacDuffie. 

“I have a number of colleagues that I highly respect; I love the students here,” he said, “so it was really tough for me to make that decision, but my wife and I felt really strongly… that it was time for us to get closer to family.”

Nevertheless, Ruiz will take away much from his time at MacDuffie. He said his experience has been characterized by both its challenges and rewards and by the collegiality and joy that he felt often. He expressed gratitude for the “unconditional love and commitment that the team that I’ve had an opportunity to work with has had for the school and for the students,” especially noting the resolute character of the faculty. 

“Our teachers have been willing, certainly throughout my time here, to simply roll up their sleeves and get it done. The amount of time they spend with kids outside of the classroom, the amount of time they spend with them providing extra support and help, I think it’s remarkable,” Ruiz said. 

Of the teachers’ “collegiality and mutual respect” for each other, Ruiz also added “that’s one of the things that I will take away and hope that I can help to encourage at my new school.” 

In addition to his work with the MacDuffie faculty, Ruiz has enjoyed the connections he has developed with many of MacDuffie’s students, especially those who were a part of the school’s disciplinary process on the Judiciary Council with him.

“One of my… positive memories of my time here has been the relationship that I’ve had with students who have participated in that arena,” he said. The JC provided many valuable takeaways for Ruiz including a better understanding of the importance of the students’ voice within it. Ruiz hopes to bring this with him to Hebron as well. 

In part because of his experience with students at MacDuffie, Ruiz said he has great excitement that his role at Hebron will allow him to be closer to students. 

“I am really looking forward to spending time doing the leg work, rolling up my sleeves, and working with the judiciary, working with the student council, working with clubs, working with planning all the extracurricular activities, working with kids in the residential community… so I can’t wait,” he said. 

Though he is leaving, Ruiz said he hopes the students at MacDuffie will continue to emphasize the work that is important to him. 

“I would hope that our students will continue to learn and ask those critical questions and to continue to make sure that the voiceless have a voice and that they continue to fight the good fight when they see and hear of injustices,” he said. 

Before he departs, Ruiz will continue to work on the creation of an easily amended, inclusive and feasible academic plan given any contingencies that may arise next school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when he does leave, it will be with appreciation and best wishes. 

“I’ve really enjoyed getting up in the morning and coming to work and seeing the community and seeing the kids and seeing the faculty, and it’s been a really joyful experience for me,” he said. 

“I know these are trying times, and my heart goes out to our families… but I hope and pray that things will be better down the road and MacDuffie will again be able to flourish and to continue to educate students in the way it always has. So I have nothing but the best in my heart and in my soul for the school, its teachers and its students, so I wish them all well.”