Virtual Poly Tech Hero: Charles Polizano P’18

“When it comes to Virtual Poly,” said Math Department Chair Dr. Maria DiCarlo P’23, “Charles Polizano P’18 is the wizard behind the curtain!  Charles has provided the Mathematics Department with the technology we needed and with the training to go along with it.  He has been a support as we figured out how to use our laptops, iPads, and overhead projectors, as well as how to use the appropriate software applications.  We could never have done Virtual Poly without Charles!”

Director of Technology Charles Polizano P’18 at Virtual Poly’s mission control center, his kitchen.

“Charles Polizano is a hero,” Head of School Audrius Barzdukas ‘20 told parents during an Upper School Virtual Town Hall in late April. Around Virtual Poly, it would be hard to find someone who would disagree with this estimation of Poly’s Director of Technology.

“Charles had the foresight to create a website for our academic program before any of us had quite grasped how fundamentally important the migration to an online platform would be,” said Assistant Head of School, Academics Michal Hershkovitz P’16, ’18.He constructed the site in record time, and has worked with the academic leadership team to make it a robust repository of our multifaceted academic program ever since. With Stacy Hunter leading Virtual Poly in the Lower School, we got well ahead of the online learning curve in all divisions, and the results have surpassed all expectations. And now a number of our computer science students have volunteered to help maintain some of the Virtual Poly pages so that they reflect the daily innovations and creativity of our academic program. So Virtual Poly is both an online learning site and a vehicle for learning. It’s all rather amazing, and a tribute to Charles’s talent and indefatigable commitment to our school.” 

“With Stacy Hunter leading Virtual Poly in the Lower School, we got well ahead of the online learning curve in all divisions, and the results have surpassed all expectations.”

Michal Hershkovitz P’16, ’18

By the time Poly moved full time to Virtual Poly on April 1, Polizano had already spent weeks getting ready along with the school’s leadership team. He set up Zoom and Google Meet for faculty and created the Virtual Poly microsite, making it the first in New York City by two weeks. He trained faculty in the use of the new platforms and made sure that students would have laptops or tablets and access to the internet at home to succeed in Virtual Poly. He worked 24/7 and sometimes spent part of his Sundays sourcing photos to better illustrate the Virtual Poly site.

“Virtual Poly wouldn’t have been possible without Charles and his team,” said Head of Upper School Sarah Bates. “Not only did he work tirelessly to create the website itself, but offered many trainings and test sessions for faculty. He responds to every email, makes adjustments, and is readily available for any student, faculty, or staff member in the Poly community. I cannot imagine doing this without him!”

“Charles Polizano’s vision and creativity in developing and leading the charge on Virtual Poly has been nothing short of amazing,” said Head of Middle School Andre Del Valle, Jr. P’29, ’33. “He is always there to help with any issue big or small, and does so with energy and enthusiasm. I am always excited to see what he thinks of next.”

At a time when so much was uncertain, Polizano worked to create stability. “Charles made sure that the world of Virtual Poly was approachable, predictable, and reliable,” said Juliet Moretti, Learning Support Department Chair. “He and the entire technology team have been available to brainstorm and tutor and troubleshoot at a moment’s notice—even at one point overnighting me an internet hotspot and headphone set to make sure that I would be able to seamlessly resume my work while at home! When Learning Support was looking for a way to become a more visible source of support, Charles offered to migrate our entire site to and did so with record speed. I honestly do not think that Virtual Poly could have been possible without the work of Charles and his team.” 

“For the Visual Arts Department,” Department Chair Laura Coppola ‘95 said, “Charles generated a page on Virtual Poly that highlights the exciting work that our faculty and students are doing in our new online platforms. He’s strategized helpful ways for us to connect to our many communities at Poly and on social media by posting our Brooklyn Museum Art Challenge and making our general Arts page on the site more robust.” 

For many veteran faculty, this was a whole new way of teaching. “The biggest challenge for me is the technology,” said Sabina Laricchia P’21, a member of the math faculty for 29 years. “It’s a learning process for me.  However, I am lucky to have such amazing colleagues, especially Charlie Polizano.”

“How does he do this? My guess is that he doesn’t sleep at all. Poly really couldn’t do it without him.”

World Languages Department Chair Elisabeth Mansfield

World Languages Department Chair Elisabeth Mansfield echoed the sentiments. “Charlie is my hero. In addition to researching every single world language app/software out there for me, he answers every question or challenge that I have—and there are many—with a smile on his face and in a timely manner. How does he do this? My guess is that he doesn’t sleep at all. Poly really couldn’t do it without him.”

After Virtual Poly was well underway, Polizano continued to look for ways to make it better. “I wanted to make you aware of some recent changes to Meet and Zoom, which may be helpful for your classes,” he told faculty in late April. Then he carefully explained, in detail, how to make their classes in Google Meet or Zoom better, like being able to stream videos through Google Meet while presenting. In all of this, Polizano made sure that the use of these platforms was always in compliance with best practices and the digital safety and security of our students and faculty. And every time Polizano reached out with information, he always ended, “As always, let me know if you have any questions.”