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Bernard stepping down as MVHS AD
RUMFORD -- Whenever John Bernard accepted additional responsibilities, his main objective is to do the best job possible, so after wearing various hats he has decided to retire at the end of the school year after 35 years of educational work.
Bernard's past seven years was quite busy as the athletic director at Mountain Valley High School. It has been extremely rewarding, however, he turned 60 in January and having reached normal retirement age, decided it was time to seek other ventures.
“When I first started the job, I was often asked questions that I didn’t have immediate answers for,” said Bernard, regarding growing pains. “By the second year, I had most of the answers. By the third year, I was anticipating the questions. It’s something all ADs go through.”
Bernard’s transition was eased by the guidance that came from the other athletic directors in the Mountain Valley Conference and the state. He found that there were people out there more than willing to help.
“I have been very lucky to work in a community that is passionate about athletics and appreciates its value in the educational process,” said Bernard from his office in the corner of Puiia Gymnasium.
“People take pride in their athletic teams, and it really bonds the community. They also will do what it takes to give the kids the best opportunity for success.”
Bernard said events such as wrestling and ski meets could not take place without the help of the parents.
As AD, Bernard had the privilege of seeing both the wrestling and football teams win their first state
championships. The boys' basketball and ski teams have also won state championships in that time.
“Seeing our student athletes work hard and have success is very gratifying for me” said Bernard, who also cherishes the relationship with the coaching staff.
“We have a very dedicated group of men and women who put in endless hours because they love kids and the sports they coach. To them I say 'thank you.'"
Bernard has never been far attached from the River Valley, having graduated from Mexico in 1969 and the University of Maine in 1973, with a degree in Physical Education and Health. He student-taught PE in 1973 under Jerry Perkins at then Rumford High School.
He played Pine Tree league baseball and was on the 1974 Mexico Sombreros championship team and later played with the Dixfield Dixies.
His first real job was as a teacher assistant at the former Abbott School. In 1978, he started as the PE teacher at Mexico High School, replacing Frank Stoutamayer.
He coached both baseball and basketball, initially as a volunteer assistant to Tom Maines hoop team at MHS in 1976-77. The Pinto girls' varsity basketball team of 1981-82 was unbeaten through the regular season and lost in the state game by two points to a very talented team from Central Aroostook, coached by the legendary Dick Barstow.
“I have been very fortunate over the years to have several job changes in our district, which has helped to keep me fresh,” said Bernard, who coached 15 years at both Mexico and Mountain Valley. “I have also been fortunate to work under principals and superintendents who value athletics -- Bruce Lindberg, Charlie Lever, Matt Gilbert, Ryan Casey, Jim Hodgkin and Dr. Tom Ward -- have always been there to support our athletic programs.”
Bernard and wife, Andrea (Nasatowicz) have two children, Jared, who is presently teaching PE in Daegu, South Korea, and Kaly, who is completing her degree work in Physical Therapy at Springfield College in the spring.