Junior High Principal Teaches Every Subject

One Long Island principal spent the 2015-2016 school year getting to know what it is like to be a teacher. William S. Bernhard, the principal of P.J. Gelinas Junior High, took the year to “guest teach” every school subject.

Bernhard taught Frisbee in a Physical Education class, taught Aristotle in English, spoke about immigration in Social Studies and even made chicken parmesan in Family and Consumer Sciences. In an interview with Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, Bernhard said that he did this to get to know what issues the junior high students are facing. Before he became the principal, Bernhard taught mathematics at the local high school and at Stony Brook University.

“For me, it was about seeing how younger kids learn. Good teaching is good teaching — but there are some methodologies that you need to adjust for adults versus younger children,” Bernhard told Newsday.

One of these differences is that a teacher does not need to break down subjects as much as he or she would if she were teaching adults because a junior high student’s brain has not fully developed.

When teaching these subjects, Bernhard asked students what would make the junior high a better place. The biggest complaint he got was that the mashed potatoes served at lunch were not very flavorful.

Bernhard did not get to finish his mission, however. Next school year he plans on being able to teach music and foreign language courses. This, just another example of how educators out there go above and beyond to reach their students and make their impact on our next generation. Contrary to what we hear all the time in the news, public school education can work.

Check out a video of his efforts here.

Melissa Koenig
Melissa Koenig

Melissa Koenig is a senior political science and journalism major at Hofstra University. She hopes to direct communications for a government agency or a government official one day. She is currently the Vice President of College Democrats the Roosevelt Institute. She also is involved in the campus Hillel organization. Last year, she was selected as Hofstra’s representative at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis, MD and in January, she represented Hofstra at The Washington Center’s Inside Washington Seminar.

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