The Kern High School District board has named new principals at Bakersfield and West high schools.
Ben Sherley, director of educational services for the district, was named new BHS principal at the board meeting on Monday. He will replace longtime principal David Reese next school year. Reese spent about 20 years at BHS.
Current Director of Instructional Services Megan Gregor was named West High principal, replacing Terrie Bernardin, who has been at the school since 2014 and also is retiring this year. The positions are effective July 1, according to the district.
Sherley has worked for KHSD for the past 18 years, the last four of which he has served in his current position. With his appointment as principal at BHS, he will be returning to his alma mater.
“As a student, I had great pride being a Driller. I have a passion for Bakersfield High,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be able to go back in an administrative capacity.”
Sherley said after several years working at the district office, he wanted to return to working at a school site. He has previously worked at West and Centennial high schools.
“Being principal allows me to have a greater impact on students,” he said. “I got into education to deal directly with students. Being back at a school site, I can interface with kids on a daily basis.”
Gregor said she also wanted to return to a school site. She has spent a total of 12 years with the district, about three years of which she spent at West High as an assistant principal.
After leaving West at the end of 2017 to work at the district office, she will return to take over leadership of the school from Bernardin, her former boss.
“I’m grateful that I got to serve the organization at the district level, but I’m excited to go back to a school site and be a part of that again,” she said. “I love West High School and the West High students and community. I’m grateful I get to serve in a leadership role with them again.”
Sherley said one of his priorities when he assumes his role as principal will be to examine all the programs that are currently in place and see if there are any gaps where there needs to be new programs and see if there are any existing programs that need to be bolstered.
“My job will really be that if a student is going to Bakersfield High, they have every option and every opportunity they need to be successful,” he said.
Sherley said he would like to bolster programs and supports that will help with student discipline problems on campus.
“As with anything, if a student is more engaged in school, then discipline will follow,” he said. “Any time you have adolescents, you’re going to have some that are going to make bad decisions. The job really is to educate and support the students in making the right choices.”
Gregor said one of her priorities is promoting literacy, including promoting reading more in subjects outside of English and encouraging students to read outside of class.
“I will promote literacy strategies and work with teachers to help better prepare our students to be literate citizens, to be critical thinkers in our community,” she said.
Gregor said she believes students who are struggling to make the appropriate reading level for their grade need more individual attention, rather than a one-size-fits-all type of approach.
“We need to individually meet the needs of our students,” she said. “I want to start to really work on providing specific feedback to individual students based on their reading levels so we can provide support for them at the level they need.”
Despite the challenges that come with leading a school, both Gregor and Sherley said they believe they’re up for the job given their previous work experience at the school and district levels.
“I’m humbled. It’s a great honor,” Sherley said. “I’m extremely excited.”
Gregor said she cried tears of joy and hugged her family upon hearing she had been selected to serve as the West High principal.
“I’m very proud that I get to return to place I respect so much, the people I respect so much,” she said. “I’m eager to get to work.”