Five years ago, she made the transition from being a colleague of the teachers to being their boss. That was made easy, she said, by the atmosphere of teamwork at Shaw. “We all treat each other with the same respect,” she said. “We all want the best for our students. That’s why we’re all here.”
Deanna Cerone, a sixth-grade teacher at Shaw and a unit leader for the Valley Stream Teachers Association, said Pernick has kept the staff together during some rocky times at the school. “She’s been the constant,” Cerone said. “We always knew that no matter what, she would be there.”
Cerone said that teachers are hopeful that Pernick will be Shaw’s principal for a long time. She added that the staff is proud to see one of their own rise through the ranks to become their leader. “She is the hardest-working, most dedicated person I know,” Cerone said. “It makes you want to work for her.”
Pernick said she is always interested in learning, and keeps current with the most recent trends in education. She also said she prides herself on knowing the names of as many children as possible, which can be challenging in a school with 700 students.
Taking over for Pernick will be Josh McPherson, who has been an assistant principal in Flushing, Queens.
Last year, Shaw Avenue was nominated for a Blue Ribbon Award by the State Education Department. Winners will be announced later in the year. Pernick said that her goal is to maintain a high level of achievement, and see what other accolades the school can get.
Her expectations for students are high. She said that when they leave to go to Memorial Junior High School, their new teachers should say, “Wow, they came from Shaw Avenue School.”
She said she plans to be visible in the school, because she wants teachers and students to know that she cares. Her door will always be open, Pernick said, and being principal won’t change the type of person or leader she is.
The first day of school can’t come soon enough, she said, adding that she hopes to be principal for a long time. “I’m ready. I’m so excited,” she said. “I’ve been here for 19 years and I don’t see myself going anywhere.”