COSTA MESA : Educator’s Job Is Mere Child’s Play

Brian Woodard surprised his new kindergarten classmates at Victoria Elementary School when he showed up on the first day of school Thursday morning with his new buddy--the school district’s new superintendent, Mac Bernd.

The two redheads, Brian, 4, and Mac, 49, had met at Brian’s house in Costa Mesa at 7:15 a.m. and rode to school together on the big yellow bus.

“It is the first day of school for the superintendent and the first day of school for Brian,” said Bernd, who was named this summer to the district’s top post. “To see a kindergartner begin on the first day--it makes me realize why we are all here.”

All the schools in the Newport-Mesa unified district--except Wilson Elementary in Costa Mesa, which is on a year-round calendar--began classes Thursday. Bernd said he wanted to participate in the first day of school from the perspective of a student and not that of an administrator who sits behind a desk.


“It is a good way for me to get started,” Bernd said, adding that as superintendent he will try to be a recognizable face to the many teachers and students in the cities. Brian and the superintendent met after the child and his mother had attended an orientation session at the elementary school.

Moreover, Bernd wanted to check out Victoria Elementary, which was in its first day of operation. The 300-student school was opened this fall to handle increased enrollment in Costa Mesa.

After conquering some first-day jitters, Brian had a question or two for the top administrator, who was buckled into the seat with him for the two-mile ride to school.

“Why does the bus go so slow?” he asked, contrasting the bus driver’s performance with that of his parents.


When the bus came to a stop in the school parking lot, the two of them headed off for class.

Within minutes of entering Room 8, Brian, Bernd and 11 students were clapping their hands, wiggling their fingers and comparing eye colors with teacher Suzan Giberson.

“They are growing up,” said one weepy parent who waved goodby to her child before leaving the kindergarten classroom.