Sybil Pernell holds the bar high for her scholars. As IDEA’s new Director of Special Education, Ms. Pernell understands that it’s important to meet scholars where they are, but also to focus on the future and not dwell on past struggles. “I don’t hold their past against them,” she explained. “I talk about strategies to help them be successful now and in the future. I get to know each child and find out the best way for them to learn. Then we monitor them closely to see what strategies are working and what needs to be modified.”
Ms. Pernell comes to IDEA from Richmond, Virginia, where she most recently worked in the largest comprehensive high school in the city, after serving as a special education teacher in both public and private schools. She holds master’s degrees in both special education and administration and supervision from Virginia State University.
“I have always liked teaching students who faced learning challenges,” she said. “I like coming up with creative ways of reaching them.”
Having worked in both classroom settings and in special education leadership roles, Ms. Pernell brings a wealth of experience to her position at IDEA. She has particular expertise in helping scholars transition successfully from high school to either college or the workforce, writing effective individual education plans, training and mentoring teachers, and developing strong relationships with scholars who have disabilities and their families.
“My goal is to help our teachers differentiate learning in their classrooms to make sure IDEA meets the needs of all of our scholars,” she said.
Outside of school, Ms. Pernell enjoys spending time with her 13-year-old daughter and reading about new ideas in special education.
Welcome to IDEA, Ms. Pernell!