Polytech names new superintendent


Mark Dufendach will be the new superintendent at Polytech. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Polytech School District Superintendent Deborah Zych announced at the May 9 school board meeting that she will be stepping down on June 30 to pursue a job with the University of Delaware’s Professional Development Center for Educators. In mid-May, the board selected current assistant superintendent Mark Dufendach to replace her on July 1.

Before coming to work as the superintendent, Ms. Zych was the assistant superintendent at New Castle County’s Vo-Tech School District for eight years. During her career, she also spent some time as director of curriculum at the Department of Education, a school and district administrator and a teacher.

Looking back on her time at Polytech, she said she was proud to have been a part of the focus the district put on career programs and student certifications.

“We’ve redesigned a number of the programs, revising curriculum and renovating the career labs,” she said. “We’ve done extensive construction throughout the campus and increased the number of student certifications that Polytech students can earn. There are rich opportunities to enroll in advanced placement and dual enrollment courses. When the students graduate they have a distinct advantage, having earned advanced credentials. Our adult education center now serves up to 4,000 people per year as well and the work we’ve done with the ESL population in Kent County is also really noteworthy.”

Polytech electrical student Trent Kelly , left, explains how to connect electric to a light fixture to the outgoing superintendent Deborah Zych and incoming superintendent Mark Dufendach as student Viktoria Winfield looks on at Polytech High School. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mr. Dufendach applauds Ms. Zych’s performance, noting that the district’s technical programs became “truly state-of-the-art” under her leadership.

“Our programs are much more in alignment with current industry standards,” he said. “Dr. Zych has also provided the leadership necessary to expand the broad range of educational opportunities available to our students by dramatically increasing advanced placement and dual enrollment course offerings.”

Ms. Zych also thinks highly of Mr. Dufendach’s performance and said that he’ll make an excellent superintendent.

“He was absolutely the best candidate and he’s stellar colleague — truly invested in the school district, the students and the staff,” she said. “He has everyone’s best interest at heart. He’s the perfect candidate to take Polytech to the next level.”

Mr. Dufendach has been in the role of assistant superintendent for six and a half years.

Upcoming challenges

In the next five years, Ms. Zych said she feels that some of the biggest challenges the district will face are financial issues and keeping pace with job markets.

“The fiscal challenges relative to the state budget will be an ongoing challenge,” she said. “Also, continuing to focus on the business and industry needs in Kent County is something that needs to be taken seriously. Luckily, Mark’s background is in business management so I think he’s ideal to guide the district through those challenges.”

To some degree, Mr. Dufendach feels he’s already has some experience with allocating the district’s resources in his current role.

“As assistant superintendent, I have helped to ensure that Polytech has managed its resources wisely by targeting funding to the classrooms where it can have the most impact,” he said. “We have also worked very hard to upgrade our facilities, equipment and technology through multiple construction projects that have been completed on time and within budget.”

No matter what the future holds, Mr. Dufendach said he’s committed to the district’s guiding principles.

“We must continue to ensure that we are properly preparing our students to reach their full potential, whether that be higher education, the military or the workforce,” he said. “While we must continue to evolve and adapt to keep pace with the changing world, we must also maintain our commitment to our core values that are also critical to attaining personal success.”

Polytech School District provides educational programs and training for students in grades 9-12 through its high school and for adults through its adult education programs. Polytech High School has an enrollment of more than 1,100 students and they offer training in 21 different technical programs.

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