A legend’s impact on the class of ’22


Julia Krider '23

“He just knows a lot, so I gained a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have before,” Kailey Cullen ’22 said.

Tologs know him as the shuffling, soft-spoken, sweater-vested man who you can catch a glimpse of through the doorway to room 24. He is quiet in the halls, yet in the classroom it’s impossible to ignore the ideas he presents. The intelligence is palpable wherever Mr. Bernstein goes, and this year’s seniors recognize that. 

For the class of 2022, Mr. Bernstein stands out as one of FSH’s most influential teachers. 

“He’s such a smart man. Every class I would leave kind of awe-struck about how many ideas he had implemented and made me think about,” Allison Risha ‘22 said. 

Mr. Bernstein’s class is discussion-based. Students are given the opportunity to think about the questions he poses about the texts they read and develop their own ways of thinking in the accepting environment Mr. Bernstein creates. 

“Mr. Bernstein taught me the importance of asking questions. I also learned how to ask the right questions. That is such an important skill to have, especially when you’re thinking about books or just anything in general. He taught me and enabled me to ask those questions to expand my thinking,” Kailey Cullen ‘22 said. 

While Tologs have gained lots of technical writing skills in his class, they also appreciate the wider worldview that Mr. Bernstein instills in them. 

“I think he has given me a wider perspective and a different view on English. He has really helped me reexamine my beliefs and come up with more firm answers for when people ask me my morals and values,” Risha said.

The literature that Mr. Bernstein uses in class is unique as well. He teaches books from all different kinds of cultures, geographical locations and time periods. 

“My favorite book was definitely ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.’ That was towards the end of junior year. I really liked the way he taught it. There’s a lot of different themes going on in that book, and there’s a lot to think about when you’re reading, and I think he did a good job of helping us notice that,” Cullen said. 

Mr. Bernstein introduces his students to books that they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. 

“I really loved reading a lot of literature that wasn’t American, like about Africa and India. Learning about those different cultures brought me a lot of joy,” Risha said. 

Drawing parallels between the past and the present is a classic Bernstein discussion topic, especially when the books Mr. Bernstein teaches contain material that is different from the life of a FSH student. 

“His was the first class where I really deeply analyzed what I was reading in today’s context, no matter what it was, regardless of when it was written,” Risha said. 

Mr. Bernstein pushes his students to look at the world in a new light. 

“[He] really opened my eyes to see a lot of the parallels that he drew between the work that was written in the 1800s to some stuff still happening today and that is still so relevant. He really challenged a lot of our beliefs and the traditional things that were instilled in us [that] we just went with since we were children,” Risha said. 

Mr. Bernstein’s impact is felt in the classroom through the way he makes connections with students. 

“He was very inclusive and understanding and welcoming. He would just say things, and it felt very accepting. Even though we weren’t super close, it felt like he understood me as a student,” Lina Urquiza ‘22 said. 

In addition to his supportive and patient nature, Mr. Bernstein is known to have a sense of humor as well. 

“One time, when I was passing by his classroom, I wrote ‘Chloe and Katie wuz here,’ and when I went back to his classroom, he wiped out the ‘wuz’ and changed it to ‘were,’” Chloe Shi ‘22 said.