The Principal's Principles

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

15 days

This afternoon, as I worked on paperwork to get ready to return to school from the Thanksgiving Recess, I took a minute to write a letter to our staff. Every member of our staff (certified and support) received it in an attempt to set a positive tone between now and our long holiday break which will arrive in 3 weeks. I wrote:

Members of Team Oakview:

I see school years as a marathon, not a sprint. There are long stretches at the beginning and end, then those long days where winter’s cold temperatures and lack of sunlight drain us. When viewed within the scope of an entire school year, 15 days isn’t really that many. However, 15 is exactly the number of days that we have with our students before taking two weeks off.

  • For some of our kids who will say “it’s almost break” and slack off, it is time to call out their behavior and push them.
  • For our kids who come from challenging circumstances and are feeling anxiety about not being at Oakview for two weeks (and acting out because of it), it is time to keep them accountable, but to show how much you care.
  • For our kids that haven’t done their best work yet this year, it is time to encourage them (AGAIN) to put forth maximum effort before taking a rest and using this as a springboard in January.
  • For our kids that just keep going, that give their best each day, it is time to pull them aside and (AGAIN) tell them how much you appreciate them.

In these 15 days, we have a lot of work to do. I’ve attached our meeting schedule again as a reminder, our 8th graders will take the EXPLORE test, and we’ll continue to persevere as the professionals that we are. No matter what your title is, what department you’re in, or what you do at Oakview, these 15 days are all times to deliver the high quality service that we provide to our students.

I’ll state the obvious; this fall has been one of the most challenging times in our careers. In addition, I’d urge you to:

  • Take a second and tell a colleague that you’ve noticed how hard they are working and that you appreciate them working so hard.
  • Make time to reflect on some of the positives that we’ve had this year that may have gotten overlooked as we have overcome the challenges of not having enough time.
  • Set a tone for your students that regardless of how much time is left before a long break that all of us will work hard and make the most of our school days.
  • Celebrate being a member of “Team Oakview.”


Thanks for all you do, I’m fortunate to be your principal,

I wanted this to be more than a typical “announcement” at the beginning of the week. For that reason, I used letterhead and attached it to an e-mail rather than my normal procedure of simply writing in the provided text box. Our teachers work hard, I appreciate them, and these 15 days are an opportunity to push ourselves.

15 days!



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One thought on “15 days

  1. Courtney Holifield on said:

    Hey Mr. Bernia,

    I felt very encouraged by your letter. I said in my first comment on your blog a few weeks ago that I’m a college student at the University of South Alabama. I only have one and a half weeks of school left in this semester. These last few days of class are crucial considering that we will still be covering new material and reviewing for our final exams. I know many of my friends including myself who are so burnt out of school by this time of year and are ready to slack off and brush through these last few days of school. I have very few professors who encourage us to keep pushing to learn more and improve our grade. I think your letter is a great reminder to your staff as to why they are in this profession and why every day at school counts. Thanks for your encouragement! -Courtney Holifield

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