BY AINSLEY HENDERSON
Dr. Joe Rudnicki, who has been acting as CHS’ interim principal since Jan. 17 following the removal of principal Jon Lyons in December 2022, has announced that he will be on campus until March 3.
Rudnicki has been tasked with focusing on day-to-day operations instead of long-term projects like developing the school’s master schedule, which dictates what classes teachers are assigned to teach and when.
“I happen not to be developing that,” Rudnicki says. “I’m leaving too soon. It’s kind of like if you were to start an art sculpture. If we’ve got a clump of clay, all I can do is cut out the major parts and that’s it. That’s what I’m doing: picking up at whatever stage we’re at and smoothing the clay out.”
Instead, the interim spends his days on campus supervising during breaks, popping into classrooms and attending sports games.
But apart from his duties at CHS, who is Dr. Joseph Rudnicki?
At his core, Rudnicki says he is a man with a passion for teaching. With a background in biology and chemistry and a doctorate from the University of La Verne, Rudnicki spent 30 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent before his retirement 12 years ago.
“I still remember student teaching,” Rudnicki says. “It was probably my second week, right in the beginning, and I said ‘Oh my gosh, I made the right decision.’ To this day, if I get the opportunity to teach, I teach.”
As for his best memories as a teacher, Rudnicki recalls his chemistry students asking for a class party. His response? Celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday.
“They were shocked. I said, ‘We’re gonna celebrate Einstein’s birthday, and we’re going to do it in front of the whole school,’” the interim principal remembers. “The students all had to come up with projects; We had weathermen, the lunch menu was with chemical symbols, we had a band, and they were doing the kinetic dance. It was great, and that was definitely a highlight of my career.”
Despite the fact that CHS does not celebrate Einstein’s birthday every year, Rudnicki believes that it is a wonderful school and emphasizes that Carmel is lucky to be gifted with incredible teachers and high-level students.
“It’s very clear to me that students really appreciate being here,” the educator says. “There are fewer students having difficulties here than elsewhere. I’m out front every morning, and kids are pretty much up and the spirit coming back to me is strong.”