Bernard Pierorazio is a passionate and experienced leader in educational reform, particularly within urban communities. He served as Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools for nine years and worked to restructure the district in a way that better suited students’ needs. He advocated for the district’s elimination of middle schools in favor of a prekindergarten-through-eighth grade system, the increased presence of which has produced a marked increase in parental involvement and student success.
Bernard also focused on increasing the amount of high schools in the area so that students could learn and work in smaller, more personalized communities. Because high school students are at critical junctures in their educational careers, Bernard Pierorazio’s strategy directly led to higher student involvement and thus higher graduation rates, as well as an increase in college acceptances and scholarships. In 2012 he received the William U. Harris Award of Excellence for his efforts to increase more minority student participation in the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Tests and Advanced Placement classes.
In addition to reforming educational systems, Bernard Pierorazio has led the district in his efforts to change actual infrastructure. He created a revolutionary initiative, the Performance-Based Rapid Infrastructure Development Enterprise (PRIDE), to repair and restore Yonkers’ deteriorating academic buildings. Had the $1.7 billion project been fulfilled, it would have quickly begun a restoration system through both public and private partnerships. Although it was not put into motion, PRIDE was recognized by KPMG LLP in the 2012 World Cities Summit as one of the 100 Most Innovative Urban Infrastructure Projects. He has developed numerous other projects that increased Yonkers’ relevance and leadership in education, including a Five Year Plan that convinced the Federal Courts to finally declare unitary status for the district’s public schools.
Prior to becoming superintendent, Bernard Pierorazio held various positions within the education sector as a Social Studies teacher, Student Dean, Assistant Principal at both Hawthorne PEARLS Gifted & Talented and John Burroughs Junior and Senior High School, Principal at Saunders Trades and Technical High School, Assistant Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent at Yonkers Public School District. As Deputy Superintendent, he was instrumental in developing the district’s Five Year Plan, which compelled the Federal Courts to declare unitary status for the Yonkers Public Schools, ending Federal oversight of the school district. Under his leadership as principal, Saunders became a United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and a New American High School.
Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio
During his tenure, Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio has championed the district’s school restructuring efforts to eliminate middle schools by expanding the ‘prekindergarten through grade eight’ school model. This initiative has resulted in data-proven increases in student achievement and has improved parental involvement.
At the secondary level, Bernard Pierorazio increased the number of district high schools to provide smaller learning communities that enhance student achievement. This strategy has led to marked increase in high school graduation rates, college acceptances, and post secondary scholarships. In 2012, the College Board recognized his commitment to enhancing the district’s college-going culture by awarding him the national William U. Harris Award of Excellence for increasing minority student participation int eh College Board’s Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, Scholastic Aptitude Test, and Advanced Placement courses.
In May 2013, Manhattan College awarded him with the prestigious honorary Doctor of Pedagogy prior to his commencement address to the graduate students, for his commitment to improvement and innovation in urban education.
To address the district’s aging infrastructure, Bernard Pierorazio’s ground breaking initiative, which was not fulfilled, was a $1.7 billion Performance-Based Rapid Infrastructure Development Enterprise, called Yonkers PRIDE. To restore decaying and outdated school buildings, this initiative utilizing public and private partnerships and would have been the first of its kind for a public school system in the United States. In July 2012, the project garnered international acclaim after being named among the 100 Most Innovative Urban Infrastructure Projects by KPMG LLP at the 2012 World Cities Summit in Singapore.
The Bigger Picture
Bernard Pierorazio has always been interested in working with young people and making big-picture decisions that will allow them to flourish in the future. He emphasizes that every decision administrators make should be for the children, not for themselves or for political gain. That’s why he switched to alternative education early in his career– he wanted to help young students who were disinterested in education and had all but given up. What motivated him the most was helping them graduate and move forward to college, a feat that many children and parents alike in the area deemed as impossible.
He has been recognized as a crucial player in changing the paradigm of education. He was named New York State Superintendent of the Year in 2011 and received the Doctor of Pedagogy from Manhattan College in 2013 thanks to his efforts in urban revitalization. Throughout his academic career he focused on creating new programs that motivated young people who had previously had little to no options, such as twilight schools that offered later hours, and credit recovery programs that helped struggling students get back on track toward graduation.
Accomplishments & Awards
Bernard Pierorazio has received a host of other awards and certifications, including the Leadership Award from the Fulbright Association’s Greater New York chapter and the Lawrence Levin Award from the New York Association for Continuing Community Education. He is inspired by his own family and the growth of his two sons and continues to advocate for a brighter, better future in education. He is now the Regional Field Associate at CTE Technical Assistance Center of New York.
Among all his accomplishments, Bernard Pierorazio is proudest of his two sons. Dr. Phillip Martin Pierorazio, a graduate of Georgetown University and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and presently a surgeon at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, and Michael Bernard Pierorazio, Esq., a graduate of Columbia University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, working with the U.S. Paten Office.