The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week!

In my humble opinion, teachers have the most important job in the world. They are dedicated professionals who work long hours and often receive very little recognition.

This morning, I encouraged our students to let teachers who have made an impact on them know how important they are. After meeting with one of our groups today, one student asked if I planned to write to someone. Considering it a great idea,  I am proposing that everyone take a moment this week to write to a teacher that made a difference in their life. I sat down and put together a letter, which appears below,  to my favorite teacher,  Mr. Clarke.

April 2, 2011

Dear Mr. Clarke,

I know that much time has passed since I was in one of your classes, it is my sincere hope that this letter finds you well and continuing to make a huge impact on the lives of the students you work with.

As a bit of an update, I write to you now as the Assistant Principal of a middle school in Lake Orion, Michigan. This week, I am meeting with our students and giving them an “assignment” of sorts. In honor of National Teacher Appreciation week, I’m asking our students to write to a teacher who made an impact on them to simply say “thanks.” As I passed around our cafeteria, one of our 6th graders asked me who I’d be writing to. I thought for a moment and the decision was simple.

You were my tenth grade Geometry teacher, and to say that was a course I struggled with would understate how difficult a time I had. I remember specifically an assignment where we had to complete a packet of 20 “proofs,” and I had extreme anxiety, thinking I would not know what to do. You came to school early, every day, to meet with me and help me with my work. I don’t remember what my grade ended up being, but I know I did better than I would have because of your help.

When I was a junior, I took an ACT prep course, and had a really difficult time with some of the math concepts. I recall coming to your classroom and handing you a sheet of problems. The next day, after looking them over, you took time to help me, explaining the concepts to me in a way I could understand.

In addition to the above times you helped me as a student, what stands out most about my time in high school was the many events you came to, simply to support me and my peers. I don’t recall you missing many games, performances, or evening activities. Those memories have stayed with me, because I know that I, as well as my friends, mattered to you.

I will always remember and value our bond that existed because of our mutual love for Major League Baseball. I remember watching the 1997 World Series with you in the CMC weight room, along with having a great conversation with you, after I graduated, about the McGwire/Sosa home run chase. While I will always value the lessons I learned in your math classes, I appreciate even more the way you worked so hard to know me as a person and went above and beyond the call of duty to help me. As part of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I write to you this morning to say “thanks, you made a difference in my life.”


John C. Bernia Jr.

Assistant Principal


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