M-W graduate begins new role as high school principal, By Nancy Kriz CENTRAL VALLEY - At six feet, seven inches tall, David Bernsley can be easily noticed walking down the hallways at Monroe-Woodbury High School. While the summer months tend to be slower at the high school, there is still a lot of activity going on every day. Bernsley - the new high school principal - stops and chats with everyone he encounters, shaking hands and asking how things are going as he makes his way around the building. During the past weeks, Bernsley has taken a lot of time getting familiar with the huge academic complex where almost 2,500 students attend classes. It’s not the same building Bernsley took classes in when he was a Monroe-Woodbury freshman in 1983, but that’s okay with him. That’s because Bernsley, a member of the M-W Class of 1987, has returned home. “I take my responsibility as a new high principal very seriously,” said Bernsley. “I understand the importance of it and how it’s view by the public. This is a dream of mine to be given the opportunity to come home’ to the community that has been so good to me and my family. Monroe-Woodbury is the Cadillac’ district in the area, and there are a lot of fine districts around. There’s a status to saying you’ve graduated from Monroe-Woodbury. It’s become the leader academically.” Bernsley spent the last five years of his career as principal at Wallkill High School in Wallkill. “Wallkill is a great place,” he said. “I could have finished my career there. There will always be a special place in my heart for Wallkill. But here, I’ve come home. Crusader pride. I live it. I believe it.” Without your name, you have nothing’ Bernsley is showing that pride in many ways, including having the largest wall in his office painted in “Crusader purple.” He even acknowledged he now owns several purple ties and one shirt. But Bernsley knows he needs more and will have several new purple shirts custom made to fit his 41- inch sleeve. With less than three weeks until school resumes, Bernsley is committed to making the forthcoming school year successful for everyone. “I have 2,400
2,500 kids that I consider my own,” said Bernsley, who played basketball for the Crusaders while at Monroe-Woodbury. “I want this building to be known as the best building around.” At the same time, he knows replacing long-time principal Aldo Filippone has its own challenges. “Aldo Filippone is an iconic figure here,” Bernsley said. “Those are big shoes to fill. But all I can only be is Dave Bernsley.” “I have no desire to make changes for the sake of making changes,” he added. “The first important thing here is to be a leader. I will build one relationship at a time. I’m taking the time to listen. “People need to trust me and that doesn’t happen overnight. My father told me that you could be the wealthiest man in the world, but without your name, you have nothing.” High school as microcosm of life’ And, Bernsley added, the first important thing he wants to remind students about is the importance of their education. “Here at Monroe-Woodbury, there’s an expectation of excellence,” he said, making note of the range of academic, art, music, sports and extracurricular programs available. “We’re not going to settle for mediocrity. I believe every child can learn, just in different ways. It’s our job to find what motivates the child and hone in on it.” And Bernsley feels students have a job of their own as well. “I believe high school is a microcosm of life,” said Bernsley. Does life allow you to be late? Not come to school or work? Not work to the best of your abilities? “Life does not allow you to do this,” he added. “Our students will hold themselves accountable and work to the best of their abilities. They will have all the support (from administration, faculty and staff) they need here.” Bernsley noted that both students and parents will find him accessible. “Communication is huge in my world,” he said. “If parents call, they can expect a call back the same day from me. I expect students to come and see me anytime they want. I would be disappointed if they didn’t stop by. The principal’s office is an open line of communication.” Being visible is equally important to Bernsley as well, so expect to see him at school academic, extracurricular and sporting events. “You’ve got someone who lives, breathes and bleeds’ Monroe-Woodbury,” he said. “I’m very proud to be back here.”
This is a dream of mine to be given the opportunity to come home’ to the community that has been so good to me and my family. Monroe-Woodbury is the Cadillac’ district in the area, and there are a lot of fine districts around. There’s a status to saying you’ve graduated from Monroe-Woodbury. It’s become the leader academically.” David Bernsley, the new principal at Monroe-Woodbury High School
The David Bernsley Bio Graduated in 1987 from Monroe-Woodbury Bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College; master’s degree from Iona College and certificate of advanced study from SUNY New Paltz. Lived in Israel and played professional basketball for the Israeli National Team. The team won the 1997 European Championship. Taught at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx and at North Rockland High School in Thiells in Rockland County. Served as assistant principal at Washingtonville High School. Served as principal for the past five years at Wallkill High School. Bernsley, wife Karen and their four children live in Montgomery; his parents Harvey and Valerie Bernsley still live in Monroe.