Sandra Shanhai, the principal of the Valley Stream Christian Academy on Fairview Avenue, was named the Valley Stream Businessperson of the Year at the Nassau Council Chambers of Commerce breakfast on Oct. 19.
“It was totally unexpected for me,” she said.
At the breakfast, Shanhai heard speeches from the other Businesspeople of the Year and received a citation from Nassau County Legislator Bill Gaylor, a Republican from Lynbrook.
“It was amazing to see how many people are nominated throughout the year,” she said.
She also said that she would like to see the Christian Academy “become a very vibrant part of the community.” To achieve that end, Shanhai became involved in the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce last spring, and volunteered to serve as its secretary.
“We felt that she really stepped up to the challenge,” said Dominick Minerva, the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce president.
Minerva said that Shanhai has been “very helpful” as the secretary and has attended every chamber event since she became a member. Minerva said that he and the rest of the chamber board members voted to nominate Shanhai for the honor because they were impressed with her history.
“She seemed to be very involved in the community through her school [and] through her church,” Minerva said.
Shanhai began working at the Valley Stream Christian Academy, which is affiliated with the Bethlehem Assembly of God, as a Spanish teacher 18 years ago. At the time, her children were attending the school, and she would drop them off before she taught, she said.
Even though her children are older now, Shanhai continues to teach Spanish at the school.
“The best thing for me is just to be in the classroom and have that relationship with the students,” she said, adding that her least favorite part of the job is disciplining her students.
As the principal, she also oversees the administration and guides Aimee Adams, the elementary assistant principal.
“She is filled with happiness and wisdom and is just a wonderful person to work with and for,” Adams said about Shanhai.
The Valley Stream Christian Academy opened in 1997. It now has about 120 students enrolled, and offers classes with a student to teacher ratio of 1:10. The students are required to memorize bible verses and are taught from a Christian worldview, according to Shanhai. They attend chapel once a week.
For more information about the Valley Stream Christian Academy, visit www.vscacademy.org.