PATERSON, NJ – While students and staff returning to the Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism School (CAHTS) at the Eastside Educational Campus in September, whether in the classroom or virtually, may still be processing the loss of Dr. Gerald Glisson, they will be greeted by just as comforting a figure prepared to help guide them through their educational journey.

On Tuesday, the Paterson Board of Education approved Pamela M. Powell to serve as the school's new principal. Powell, who has served Paterson Public Schools as chief of staff for more than three years, is filling a vacancy left by Edgard Nieves, who was recently named the Eastside Educational Campus principal of operations to replace Glisson.

Glisson passed away after a battle with COVID-19 in May.

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Saying she has “the heart of a principal,” Superintendent Eileen Shafer added that Powell is a “dynamic educational leader with an unfailing focus on doing what is best for the district’s students.”

“The Eastside Educational Campus continues to be a community that is healing from the passing of Dr. Glisson, and I know that Ms. Powell will be sensitive to the community’s needs in that regard. At the same time, Ms. Powell has an excellent track record as a high school principal, and I know that she will lead CAHTS students and staff to achieving new heights.”

Powell herself said she is excited to take the role that puts her back in Eastside High School where she graduated from, and that she’s going back stronger professionally because of the experience she gained working at the district level under the leadership of Shafer. 

“I feel that I’m being led to go back to help in the healing process, to help provide hope for our young people, to work in a spirit of collaboration and to help take Eastside High School to new heights.

An ordained minister at Calvary Baptist Chuch, Powell acknowledged her belief that “God has ordained this.”  

“With the death of Gerald, it’s a really delicate time.”

Powell hopes to have an impact on the students that many of the educators she had at Eastside High School had on her, she said, listing Daisy Briggs, Roslyn Ellerbee, Dale “Skip” Van Rensalier and Frank Bannister as a few that had particular influence over her life and education. As a student, Powell was facing the challenges of attending to her mother, who was 100 percent disabled due to multiple sclerosis, while she attended school.

Prior to working at Paterson Public Schools, Powell worked at HBO for 15 years in the network’s financial offices. Powell first began working at Paterson Public Schools in December 2001 as a special education teacher at Public School No. 7, where she worked for nearly a decade.

After a year of teaching business at John F. Kennedy High School, Powell was named department head in 2012, and then the high school’s interim principal in 2013. While she was a business teacher, she worked with students to launch The Castle, a student-run bank. The institution continues to be a cornerstone of the BTMF program today.

Powell was named principal of School of Business, Technology, Marketing and Finance (BTMF) at Kennedy in April 2014 where she led the staff and students to achieve an increase in students’ state assessments scores.

Powell holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA where she majored in business and minored in accounting. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership from Montclair State University and her master’s degree in divinity from the New York Theological Seminary.

Powell is also trained as a life coach and has been recently trained in restorative justice practices.