The transition from childhood to adolescence is often considered one of the most influential and challenging experiences in the development of young men and women. In Rancho Bernardo, we depend on the dedicated work of a group of extraordinary members in our community to not only assist in this transition, but also help mold our young citizens into mature, well-rounded individuals. This pivotal time in students’ lives is spent at 92128’s Bernardo Heights Middle School (BHMS). BHMS Principal Tim Biland helps give perspective into the lives of both students and staff in the thick of the educational “sandwich” that is junior high.
And you better be paying attention to this required reading, as there will be a quiz at the end.
What is your role as principal of Bernardo Heights Middle School (BHMS)?
As principal, my role is to support the needs of everyone: the safety, learning, and engagement needs of the students, the learning, collaboration, and instructional needs of the teachers, and the involvement and sense of security and confidence of the parents that the school is preparing their children for future academic and career demands.
What is your responsibility to the students on campus?
Students have a right to a clean, welcoming campus where they feel respected, are provided support and guidance, and can expect to be treated fairly by peers and adults. One of the most significant ways we demonstrate to students that we respect them is to offer them an education with high expectations and relevance; this necessitates that all staff are provided the resources they need to plan and facilitate these kinds of experiences.
What is the most rewarding part about being principal? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part about my job is that I get to be present where so many individuals work together to help kids grow; these successes can range from a student achieving the principal’s honor roll, or just as meaningful, when a student has made a big mistake, has taken ownership for it, and grown profoundly because of it. It’s a middle school thing. The most challenging part of my job is sustaining an environment where students understand they are the active ingredient in the culture; what is acceptable and appropriate behavior. Because they are middle school age, some students experiment with name-calling, profanity, or other challenging behaviors. The vast majority of students never act this way, but until they learn that they have a right to disapprove of such behavior, the culture of the school is challenged. Eventually, they learn this and practice the skills needed to withstand and detour this behavior.
What goals have you accomplished as principal? What do you hope to accomplish?
Becoming part of the school community has been the greatest accomplishment for me as a principal because the relationship foundation is so vital to do difficult work and have critical conversations about what is best for kids. BHMS is a school with a legacy of successful engagement and learning. My goal is to foster innovation and leadership needed to respond to the career and college readiness demands of today and tomorrow.
What does the Foundation do to assist with year-round activities? The PTSA?
The Bernardo Heights Education Foundation (BHEF) and PTSA provide resources of time, effort, organization, and volunteers throughout our school year. From assisting with registration, to art fairs and Science Olympiad supplies, supporting student recognition events, funding technology and resources purchases, and engaging the community voice in education, our parent groups are instrumental in sustaining a school community that goes above and beyond to make school successful.
What are the major events BHMS is hosting this school year?
One of the most noteworthy events throughout the school year is the Turkey Trot school-wide assembly. During this event, ASB and Leadership students provide the organization. Choir, Band, and our B-Boys Hip-Hop Dance Club provide the entertainment; Art Club students provide the decoration; our 6th through 8th grade top runners compete for the trophy recognizing top boy and top girl. This event has developed into a school-wide celebration of being a Bobcat, and for this reason it is my favorite event throughout the year. Other events include Choir, Band, and Orchestra concerts, art and band festivals, Student Leadership-led drug and tobacco education and awareness assemblies, and lunchtime spirit activities.
What does BHMS do to prepare students for their future as professionals?
During this transition between elementary and high school, our students learn the foundational organizational skills, work habits, and decision-making needed to productively and meaningfully engage in collaboration, inquiry and critical thinking, and creativity. Students are exposed to a deeper understanding in academic and elective offerings and begin to have a more self-directed approach to their learning and course of study. BHMS students are also encouraged to become involved in the culture of the school and to take ownership and leadership roles in the school and community.
What are some of the highlights of students’ time at BHMS?
6th grade – Camp, Olympics, pool party
7th grade – Day of Shakespeare, Tournament of the Phoenix
8th grade – History Bowl, Knott’s Berry Farm field trip, end of the year Luau, yearbook signing party, and Promotion
What sports are offered to students of BHMS?
Cross country, wrestling, basketball
Please tell us about the wide range of afterschool activities that BHMS offers.
Our school has an after school program that serves over 200 students daily, providing a place for homework, snack, and a range of activities. These students, as well as the whole school, may access student based clubs and programs such as Speech and Debate, Dance, Journalism, Ping Pong, Science Olympiad, Robotics, Acoustic guitar, and Homework Club, to name just some of the offerings.
What are some of the activities that BHMS puts on throughout the year that students look forward to?
Yearbook, 6th grade Outdoor Science Camp, Band and Choir concerts, dances, field trips, lunchtime activities, character and spirit assemblies, staff vs. student dodgeball games, and academic events such as the Spelling Bee, Science Olympiad, and the History Bowl.
What is your favorite thing to partake in with students?
I like being present during lunch, where the kids have their time. They will start conversations with me that reveal their talents, interests, and personalities in ways that you don’t always get to see when you visit classrooms. It is because of the time spent developing relationships with kids that I can have conversations with them about their classwork, behavior, and goals that lead to their improvement and that is what is most rewarding about my job.
Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know.
I once pet a wild moose, and I had a paper route six days a week after school when I was in fourth and fifth grade.
We are giving away a $50 gift card to the first person that writes in with the correct answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line titled “92128 Pop Quiz!”
Answer the questions below for your chance to win.
1. How many students attend BHMS?
2. Name a sport that is offered at BHMS.
3. What is the BHMS school motto?