Bernadette Boyle served as principal of the Glendale school for over 30 years. She passed away two weeks ago.
At the monthly meeting of Community Board 5, English teacher Mary Elizabeth Smith petitioned the board to support renaming the school after Boyle.
“Bernadette's dedication to her faith family and school was evident every single day of her life,” Smith told the board. “The children she taught, the students under her care when she was principal at IS 119, her professional colleagues and community parents all received the full measure of gracious concern from Boyle.”
Smith explained that despite growing up during the great depression, Boyle was able to go to college.
After graduating from Columbia University, Boyle taught at an elementary school in South Jamaica before becoming an assistant principal at IS 119. Eventually she was promoted to principal.
Over the years, she faced numerous challenges in the role. Specifically, Smith noted that during the budget crisis of the 1970s, she willingly welcomed special education students to the school.
“This resulted in IS 119 becoming a thriving, financially supported school during those difficult years,” she said.
Her fierce Irish determination was one of her most redeeming characteristics as she battled and beat cancer, all while not missing a beat at school.
“I personally remember how she would get chemotherapy in the evening and she would return immediately to the school's daily routines,” Smith said.
Smith set up a Facebook page last week, where other teachers and former students are sharing memories of Boyle. The first step toward the renaming is getting permission from the next of kin, which Smith said she will do when Boyle’s brother is in New York soon.
“This is just the start, but this woman deserves it,” Smith said.