CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man has been appointed assistant principal in the Clifton Public School District, but he’s no newbie there.

Taras Petryshyn got his start working in the Clifton school district as a custodian, but that title has since changed drastically.

“Now I’m an assistant principal at School 14,” he said.

Taras Petryshyn (Credit: CBS2)

The 37-year-old immigrated from the Ukraine in 1997, graduating from Clifton High School three years later. He later returned to the school as a janitor.

“The plan was, get a job, pay for college, see what happens next, and then I just stuck around,” he said.

In the morning, he went to school at William Paterson University. At night, he cleaned, never losing sight of his idea of success.

“It’s about hard work, [it] pays off. It’s a theme and maybe it’s a cliche, I don’t know, but it works, the American dream. You work hard, it doesn’t matter if it’s a year or two, eventually it pays off,” Petryshyn said.

Taras Petryshyn (Credit: CBS2)

Once he graduated from college, the district hired him as a teacher. He did that for 11 years, and now, he’s elated to accept his new position as assistant principal and help lead a school in the district that never stopped believing in him.

“It’s a journey. You start something, you move forward, and it never stops,” Petryshyn said. “Yes, it’s a struggle. There’s letdowns and disappointments, but perseverance and hard work always leads to good outcomes.”

Petryshyn has moved from the utility room to an office, where he plans to help others grow like he did.

“When you see you can contribute to somebody else’s growth, student growth, teacher growth, it makes you feel happy. It makes me feel happy,” he said.

Petryshyn was officially appointed to the position by the school board Wednesday. The first day of school for the new assistant principal is Sept. 3.


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