By GABRIELLA DRAGONE
May 25, 2022
PATERSON, NJ – Mayor Andre Sayegh joined Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer and other city and state officials to present Felisa Van Liew, Principal of Public School No. 2, with Paterson’s Key to the City on Tuesday, the highest honor bestowed to individuals for their dedication and support to the City of Paterson.
“You can’t say ‘School 2’ without saying ‘Ms. Van Liew’,” Sayegh said. “She is an institution here in the City of Paterson, in fact, I never thought she would retire. She is the spirit of this school. We have a champion right here. She is going to repurpose, and we’ll see what she does in her next life.”
Van Liew has served the Paterson Public school district for 52 years, beginning her career as a speech therapist, and now leads 600 Kindergarten through Eighth-grade students at School 2. A beloved leader by staff, students, and community partners, Van Liew received the Harriet Tubman Award in 2015 from the City of Paterson.
“Today is a day of expressing our deep gratitude to Paterson Public School No. 2’s principal Felisa Van Liew,” Shafer said. “52 years she has been working in the Paterson Public School District, and she has been a caring, proactive administrator who is deeply concerned and involved not only in school, but in the Paterson community with all the parents and families. She has a tenacity and a professionalism that is second to none, and she understands that every student at School No. 2 can learn and be successful.”
“On behalf of every student, every parent, every adult, every administrator, we want to say thank you for being a woman of excellence, a woman of character, a woman of integrity, and a woman that has led by example,” Councilwoman-at-Large Dr. Lilisa Mimms said to Van Liew. “We aren’t going to let you leave this city.”
Praised by her teachers for “never turning a child away,” Van Liew is a staunch advocate for autism awareness and inclusivity, ensuring that all of her students receive the highest standard of education. Through her leadership, School No. 2 has partnered with New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), Oasis, Jersey Cares, and the Paterson Recreation Department to provide her students and their families with opportunities and resources.
“You know I’m not going to leave Paterson,” Van Liew said. “How can you leave the children? I have to pass the time and I have to give someone else a chance, but the children are the wind beneath my wings. I love my children. We are eagles and eagles soar.”