Shaw Avenue School has a new principal. That’s been an oft-repeated phrase over the last half-dozen years, but last week’s appointment of Amy Pernick has many believing that there will finally be stability at Valley Stream’s largest elementary school.
A standing-room-only crowd stood and cheered when the District 30 Board of Education unanimously chose Pernick as the new principal on July 25. Word spread throughout the community in the days before, and what would typically be a quiet summer board meeting was filled with unbridled enthusiasm.
Pernick smiled and wiped away tears as her family members, fellow administrators, teachers, support staff and parents applauded. After serving as the assistant principal for five years, she said she is ready for this new challenge.
She becomes the fourth principal in the past six years. After Johane Ligonde announced she would be leaving after two years to head Freeport Middle School, several people encouraged Pernick to apply for the job. “Shaw Avenue is my second home,” Pernick said. “There was so much support for me that it was overwhelming. I felt like if I didn’t do it, I would be letting a lot of people down.”
Her promotion was hardly pre-determined. Pernick was chosen from a pool of 127 applicants and three finalists. She had three interviews, first with Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Stirling, then with a search committee comprising teachers, parents and administrators, and finally with the Board of Education.
A week before her appointment, Stirling showed up at her North Bellmore home at 11 p.m. to tell her she got the job. “It was a very surreal moment,” Pernick said. “To me, that just shows what a big heart Dr. Stirling has. He said, ‘I couldn’t imagine giving you this news over the phone.’ Those were his exact words. I was speechless for the first time ever.”
Stirling said that the hiring process was very rigorous, and candidates faced many hard questions. Pernick stood out for many reasons, he said, including her commitment to the district, her desire to see all students succeed and the trust that the Shaw Avenue staff has in her.