Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Rulewich

Claire Chen ’24

One of Peddie’s greatest values is commitment to community, which every faculty member contributes to in their own various fields. For Mr. Rulewich, Director of College Counseling and Head Coach of Boys Varsity Basketball, community is the core of his work in both counseling and coaching, two complementary aspects of his work at Peddie. As a college counselor, he helps Peddie students find and apply to the right community where they will spend their next four years. With the basketball team, Rulewich works hard to foster a brotherhood among his players and to cultivate a culture where each athlete puts the team first. 

On January 14, the boys varsity basketball team defeated Lawrenceville, marking Rulewich’s 200th career win. Yet before he even mentioned winning or losing, Rulewich talked about the idea of a team. To him, it isn’t about the victories so much as it is about the community built between the players, the shared love for basketball and the memories created in the process. As the coach, Rulewich takes on the responsibility to create an environment where the team comes first. Given the full schedule of every Peddie student, Rulewich continuously thanks his players for their prioritization of the team, recognizing the hours they pour into building their skills and strengthening the team. Each individual win or loss means little in the long run, Rulewich said, but the team is “paramount.” He commented, “That’s what I hope everyone will remember: being part of that team.” 

Of course, this isn’t to say that Rulewich doesn’t like to win. He characterized himself as “competitive”, both in basketball and in college counseling. In describing his philosophy towards helping students realize their dreams, Rulewich cites Peddie’s mission statement, which emphasizes the concept of reaching. The statement proudly boasts, “With enthusiasm, humor and patience, we challenge our students to reach beyond their expectations and to define success by the progress they make.” In this regard, his roles complement each other. He describes coaching basketball as the process of “figuring out how to help [students] be the best version of themselves, and to support that while pushing and encouraging them to reach and challenge themselves to be a little bit better.” In basketball, Rulewich finds a window into the community as his athletes work hard, support each other and commit themselves to the team. This glimpse into the student community then helps him connect to students as a college counselor. When working with students towards preparing for their next four years of education, Rulewich strives to find the best college fit for every applicant and to help each student reach their full potential. 

When meeting with his new junior counselees, Rulewich is warm and welcoming, always keeping the conversation moving at a steady pace. In order for him to figure out how to best help each student, he first gets to know them as people, outside of whatever their transcripts or files may say. When asking questions or explaining certain parts of the application process, he leans forward and talks with his hands. Then, as his students reply, he sits back and tilts his head, lending a thoughtful listening ear. New juniors nervous about meeting their counselors and starting the application process are immediately put at ease by his amiable demeanor. 

On the first day of college counseling each year, Peddie’s team of counselors introduce the juniors to Scoir, a college search network designed to help applicants learn about different colleges in one streamlined site. Upon entering the Scoir website, students face a deluge of thousands of college choices, each one with its own merits. Yet Rulewich emphasizes that before talking about “colleges,” plural, the students must first think about college. Having attended such a rigorous high school as Peddie, many are preconditioned to believe that college is the natural next step in life, something that is given, or even required. Rulewich urges students to consider their own passions and goals and to find their own reasons for pursuing higher education. 

In his opinion, the greatest reward in counseling comes from watching his students persist and grow through adversity. “the chance to sit and talk with students and get to know them through their own generosity of sharing with us.” Every year, Rulewich witnesses strength and resilience from his students through the year-long process of applying, and he describes his experience of working with students as “humbling” and “honorable.” 

Given the pressure and negative competitive stigma surrounding college applications, Rulewich encourages students to think through their stress rather than wallow in it. He acknowledged, “Things that are important will have some weight to them,” and he advises students to talk about the process and reflect on it. 

As a counselor, Rulewich attests to the inner strength, ambition, and resilience that students develop throughout their high school careers, and he encourages everyone to continue reaching at whichever college they decide to attend. Ultimately, he leaves students with one final piece of wisdom: “Where you go is not as important as what you do wherever you go.”