Two KHSD principals set to retire this year

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David Reese, principal at Bakersfield High School, and Terrie Bernardin, principal at West High School, will both retire at the end of the school year. 

For the last 20 years, David Reese has been the principal at Bakersfield High School.  Next week, he will handout his last diploma.

It’s going to be tough, Reese said. A great kid, Tate Turner, is senior class president, and he’s going to get the last diploma 

Reese started his 35-year-career in education at Foothill High School, his alma mater, as a history and economics teacher and basketball coach.

In 1994, he joined the Drillers as assistant principal. In 1999, he was promoted to principal.

A mentor told me that I had an ability to connect with kids, and so I did that in the classroom and I could do that on a bigger sphere as an administrator, Reese said.

As principal, Reese accomplished a lot, from the renovation of Griffith Field, to the refurbishing and landscaping the iconic water tower and creating an all school hall of fame, but he’s most proud of: 

Handing out the 13,000 diplomas, Reese said. I think that is, I mean that’s a small village when you really want to think about it.

Reese officially retires Aug. 2, his 61st birthday.

I’ll be back, Reese said. Even though I grew up hating the Drillers when I was at Foothill, once you’re here, it sounds trite, but ‘Once a Driller, Always a Driller’ really does mean something.

Reese said he is planning on traveling with his wife and visiting his eight grandchildren who are all over the country.

Down the street, Terrie Bernardin, is preparing for her retirement after nearly 29 years at West High School, the last five as principal.

The most important and the most rewarding thing I’ve done for this school is to make sure that teachers know how to build relationships with kids, Bernardin said. So that kids will do everything they can to be smart and go off into the future.

Bernardin, a Kern County girl, graduated from Arvin High School in 1971, with no intention of becoming an educator.

I fought it with everything in me not to be a teacher, Bernardin said. I was good at math, I was good at computer programming, I was really good at accounting. I was looking at those worlds, but they weren’t satisfying.

At 33-years-old, she went back to college and graduated from Cal State Bakersfield with her teaching credential.

I knew the minute I walked in that classroom it was the right decision to make, Bernardin said. Didn’t start teaching until I was 38.

She spent 10 years teaching math and was the cheer coach at West before moving into administration.

I was a cheerleader from day one, I always was, Bernardin said. It wasn’t about being a cheerleader for me, it was about cheering your school on. It was about being proud of what your school did.

In 2014 Bernardin was named principal. On June 28th she will close her office door for the last time.

What I take with me, is thousands and thousands of just wonderful relationships that will never go away, Bernardin said.

Bernardin said she is not done with education yet, as she will be on a committee for the State Department of Education where she hopes to help develop math literacy starting at the kindergarten level.

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