Dr Pernick Steps Down As Schreiber Principal

Dr Pernick Steps Down As Schreiber Principal

Hannah Rosenberg, Staff Writer

On Feb. 11, 2022, Dr. Ira Pernick sent an email to parents and students, alerting them of his resignation as principal of Schreiber .  He announced he would be undertaking a new position as the Administrator for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, effective March 11. 

The announcement came as a surprise to students and parents, as his resignation is effective mid-year rather than July 1, a date that typically helps the administration ensure a smooth transition between principals. 

There were multiple reasons for the timing of Dr. Pernick’s resignation. The first is that the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Dr. David Meoli, is retiring at the end of the year, and must be replaced, as he is now working part time. The second reason is that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Hynes wanted to bring in more support to the curriculum office. By bringing in Dr. Pernick, the transition period between Dr. Meoli’s retirement and Dr. Pernick’s assumption of his new job is far more seamless. 

The rationale for the new position created for Dr. Pernick is the general lack of support to the curriculum office. There are many different offices, each with assistants to coordinate different areas of work. The curriculum position is currently a single-person department, and has not been running as efficiently as Dr. Hynes would like.

“This is something that I have been pushing for quite some time. It just happened to happen this year,” said Dr. Hynes. 

Currently, former Schreiber Principal Mr. Jay Lewis is stepping in, though there is an ongoing search for a principal for the 2022-2023 school year.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently many searches for positions with numerous retirements and resignations.  The posting for the principal position has just closed—around sixty people applied for the position, and the interview process will be starting and continuing over the next few weeks.  According to Dr. Hynes, there is a good chance that someone will be appointed by the board within the next month. 

“I like to have answers before the questions come up,” said Hynes. 

The coordination of Dr. Meoli’s retirement with Dr. Pernick’s new position was surprising, but prevented important departments of the administration from being understaffed. 

The Administrator for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment position is unique in the sense that itsdaily tasks are not as defined as other committees; rather, there are long term goals the school district and Dr. Pernick both hope to achieve.  

Curriculum is either designed by a teacher or instructed to be taught by a book, or determined by the NYS Board of Regents or the College Board, in the case of AP courses. The role of assessment is to ensure teachers are effectively teaching the material in accordance with the curriculum, on both large scales including student performance on NYS Regents or AP examinations, and small scales, such as the general student understanding and participation in classrooms.  This can only be achieved by working with school leaders to help advance the instructional leadership of the principals.

“I want them to speak the language of the instruction and be having those sorts of conversations,” said Dr. Pernick. 

The portrait of a graduate is an idea created by the district with Dr. Pernick’s help, which outlines the traits the school wants to guarantee students have by the time they graduate from Schreiber.  Such traits include social, emotional, and mental intelligence, as well as a mindset centered around growth, and an ability to collaborate effectively with others. 

“We work hard to prevent students from failing.  Now, we have to sort of rethink that,” said Dr. Pernick.

In a town as academically competitive as Port Washington, one could imagine reshaping students and parents’ expectations will be especially difficult.

“You got me on day one.  I don’t even know,” said Dr. Pernick when asked what the day-to-day existence of the job would be.  “I expect that I will be in all seven schools, working with principals, teachers, and professional development opportunities, and trying to connect the dots.” 

In speaking to students and administration members, it was clear that Dr. Pernick would be missed. Dr. Pernick has had many impacts on Schreiber since his arrival in 2011.  He believed Schreiber was designed to be a very big school, but understood that one of the flaws was the creation of a large bureaucracy of an administration to ensure functionality.  It hinders communication between students, parents, teachers and their administrators. 

“One of the goals I had was to make Schreiber feel smaller,” said Dr. Pernick. 

He attempted to achieve this by creating school social media accounts, a school newsletter, and informal parent coffee meetings, which all sought to “demystify” the intricacies of the high school experience for parents and students.  

Social progress was a major concern for Dr. Pernick as well.  In his years at Schreiber, he showed faithfulness to students and their concerns.  After hearing that the two-color graduation gowns depending on gender excluded nonbinary students, it was changed to be a single color.  Though the gender neutral bathroom attracts controversy, Dr. Pernick believed its presence was imperative to make students feel welcome and accepted by their school.

“We put that bathroom in the middle of the hallway.  We could have put it in a corner — we wanted to make a statement,” said Dr. Pernick. 

Curricular changes were made, including the expansion of certification requirements for the ENL and special education teachers in accordance with state guidelines.  The INVEST program for students with autism was created under Dr. Pernick in collaboration with the District Special Education department. 

“It exposed kids who may have never gotten into contact with students with autism.  It improved everybody’s life,” said Dr. Pernick regarding INVEST’s impact on Schreiber. 

“I think there are some administrators who put different systems in place and there are administrators who really connect with students.  I think one of Dr. Pernick’s greatest strengths is his ability to connect with students and help their development not only academically, but also socially and emotionally,” said superintendent Dr. Hynes.

Dr. Pernick emphasized that the bonds he had formed with students would make this transition into the new administrative position bittersweet, as it includes a wider scope of duties, and therefore creates a less immediate connection to students. 

“It’s for students.  It’s not for the adults, it’s not for the glory of it all, it’s because it’s rewarding to work with students,” said Dr. Pernick.