New middle school principal appointed

The Greater Amsterdam School District will have a new middle school principal July 1 when current


The Greater Amsterdam School District will have a new middle school principal July 1 when current principal Thomas Perillo officially takes over as district superintendent.

The district has hired Hoosick Falls Elementary School Principal John Penman to fill the post.

While Penman may have spent the last two years in Hoosick Falls, he is no stranger to city school districts. Penman also spent two years working in Amsterdam and Gloversville as a school improvement specialist with the Eastern New York Regional School Support Center.

Penman started his career as a special education teacher in the Albany City School District. He also spent five years working as a special education administrator and ESL coordinator at the Cohoes City School District.

“When you look at his resume and work experience he’s got everything that would be beneficial to the building,” Perillo said. “In a nutshell, he was the total package.”

Penman said when the opportunity arose to work with the staff in Amsterdam again he took it.

“I’m excited to start there,” he said. “I really can’t wait.”

Penman will begin with a starting salary of $94,758.

Perillo said Penman will be facing a few challenges at Lynch Academy, including working to ensure that the building gets off and stays off the list of schools in need of improvement. Lynch Academy has spent the last four years on the list due to math and English language arts test scores. Perillo said the district got off the list for math last year and is waiting to find out the outcome of this year’s ELA scores.

“Whichever way it goes, one of his biggest challenges is to continue to improve test scores, which is going to become more difficult as adequate yearly progress becomes tougher and tougher to achieve,” Perillo said.

Perillo said another challenge will be brainstorming ways to make the student’s successful in school, including making them want to come to school and act appropriately when they are there.

“Middle school is a time when students start to find themselves so to speak,” Perillo said. “They are feeling things out and experimenting.”

Assistant Police Chief Victor Hugo said there is constant police presence in the neighborhood around Lynch Academy and a police car is parked outside the school in the morning and during afternoon dismissal. Compared to neighboring city districts, he believes the middle school is fairly quiet, Hugo said.

“We get the occasional call about a fight in progress, but when we arrive it’s usually a large group of kids horsing around,” he said.

Hugo said the police presence is a preventative measure and serves as a visible reminder to students to behave and to ensure parents are following traffic safety laws while children are around.

Hugo said many incidents are handled in-house and the school has strict policies regarding bad behavior.

“They don’t handle any nonsense there,” Hugo said.

Perillo said Penman is prepared to tackle all the issues facing the school including behavioral ones.

“He is well versed with new and innovative ideas for discipline,” Perillo said.

Before he implements any changes, Penman said, he wants to get to know the staff and community.

“We believe he’ll be able to continue in our direction and provide the leadership we need,” Perillo said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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