As the middle and high school Mountaineers settled into their first few days of school, they were catching up with classmates, meeting new teachers and learning new schedules – and also were introduced to Mr. David Bernsley, the new Berlin Middle High School Principal.

Principal Bernsley has been in the education field for over 20 years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Director of Curriculum, and Superintendent of Schools. He is passionate about education and excited to begin his next chapter at the Middle High School.

In a new innovation, Principal Bernsley and Assistant Principal Amy Ferullo have already held seven grade-level “town hall” meetings during the first 10 days of school. Town hall meetings are designed to promote open discussion of topics of interest.

Town halls invite students’ questions and discuss Mountaineers’ academic successes and struggles, data points, and goals. Throughout the school year, town halls will be held at the beginning of each quarter.

During this first round of town halls, the focus was on meeting Principal Bernsley. Right off the bat he got the two most frequently asked questions out of the way: “How tall are you?” And, “Did you play professional basketball?”

Principal Bernsley is 6 ft. 7 and, yes, he played professional basketball – for the Israeli National Team, where they competed in the 1997 European Championships in Spain!

School pride will be a focus at BMHS this year, and Principal Bernsley and Assistant Principal Ferullo are leading the charge. The town hall attendees especially talked about school and community pride.

“If you don’t believe in yourself and your community, no one will,” said the new Principal.

Every Friday will be green-and-gold day. Students with the most Mountaineer spirit will be awarded an Engaged Mountaineer t-shirt and will be mentioned on Monday’s announcements.

When meeting with this year’s senior class Mr. Bernsley emphasized leadership. He asked the Class of 2024 to be the leaders of the school by setting good examples and engaging in positive ways with their classmates and younger Mountaineers.

“I am not here to change rules for seniors and create obstacles. I am here to support you and hopefully make it your best year yet.”

The new principal added, “I have five children and three have graduated. I know how important senior year was to them and is to you.”

The goal is to have every Mountaineer engaged with, and be proud of, their community, helping foster a strong, safe and healthy learning environment at the Berlin Middle High School.

“I know great success and accomplishment don’t happen overnight,” Principal Bernsley told his audiences. “But, if any of you know about chopping down a tree – that when you are persistent and consistent you will succeed and chop it down.”

“So keep chopping at whatever your goals are, and your teachers and administrators will be here to support you.”

At the conclusion of the town hall meeting Principal Bernsley and Assistant Principal Ferullo invited student questions. These ranged from senior privileges (seniors don’t forget to drop off your senior privilege paper to Ms. Bell or Mrs. Roder) to the amount of time between classes.

Students were also invited to follow up on their questions and ask more, voice their concerns, and share their ideas.