The Principal's Principles

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

Whatever it Takes

There I was, sitting down at my desk to take care of some much needed paperwork when our school secretary walked in and let me know that one of our 8th graders was in a team meeting room upset. I took a walk to the other side of our school and found a young lady having a crisis moment.

She explained to me that her cell phone had gone missing. She remembered having it before lunch, but not after. When talking with friends, one said that she remembered it being in her hand when she went to throw her trash away after eating. After she said that, she uttered the words I was hoping to avoid: “Mr. Bernia, I think I threw my phone in the trash by accident.” She went on to explain that her parents are out of town and that she is participating in our Washington DC trip this weekend. If ever there was a time not to lose a new cell phone, it was today.

We put on our coats (it was snowing at the time), and both grabbed two pairs of rubber gloves before heading outside to our school dumpster. After our school custodian was kind enough to help me fish out the trash bags, our “dumpster dive” was on. Midway through my third bag of garbage, I stumbled upon a pink and white polka dot phone case, and recovered her lost item. After a careful scrub with several antibacterial wipes, her phone was returned, still in working order.


The constant thoughts of “this could not be more disgusting,” coupled with the bad smell and gross feeling of fishing through lunch garbage all went away after she thanked me and as I saw her walk away with a smile on her face and rejoin her friends, exclaiming “he found my phone.”

It was one of those whatever it takes moments that is a good reminder of how invested we have to be in our students every day. If strong relationships with students yield good results, we have to be ready and willing to step out of our comfort zone, even when the situation brings with it a bad odor.


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3 thoughts on “Whatever it Takes

  1. That’s awesome! Our resource officer just had a similar experience with a high school girl and a borrowed dress. These are the educators and professionals we need in our schools!

  2. Maybe I am just extremely sensitive, but this post made me tear up a little. Your dedication is the kind of dedication it takes to make a difference in the world. We can often be consumed by our daily duties at work but we cannot forget the ones we are really working for—the students. Thank you for your posts, I thoroughly enjoy reading them!

    Abigail Mularz

  3. Gwendolyn Mullinax on said:

    What great dedication! Way to make the small things matter.

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