The driving force behind the KFHS Mighty Marching Bulldogs

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Bernard Bradley of Suffolk Public Schools is recognized for helping his students reach new heights. The King’s Fork High School Band Director, serving 11 years during his 14-year SPS service, has helped the KFHS Mighty Marching Bulldogs bring their school 30 awards, with 26 1st Place “Grand Champion” rankings through four major competitions. His students continue to excel, as they have received 28 award recognitions this school year.

SPS has also recognized Bradley for having the “Best Record in the School’s History.” SPS Communications and Community Engagement Officer Anthonnette Ward-Dickens detailed Bradley’s recognition by the school division.

“Mr. Bradley goes above and beyond for his students in many ways. He has taken them to perform on the Historically Black Colleges and Universities college campuses in Virginia and North Carolina,” Ward-Dickens said. “Every year, he hosts the ‘KFHS HBCU Band Scholarship Day,’ where students from Hampton Roads are invited to KFHS to play their instruments in front of band directors from different HBCUs nationwide. Several students receive scholarships on the spot.”

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Bradley talked about the honor, expressing his gratitude to God, his wife Trayva Bradley, his three children, and his parents, staff, and students for keeping the band at a “prestigious level.”

“It still feels like I’m still very young at this to be perfectly honest. I’m very blessed to continue to work with such amazing students year after year. We have created a legacy that I’m really proud of. I’m proud to see where my former students have continued to thrive and move forward performing collegially, being a service to our nation in our armed forces, and just being wonderful people inside the working class,” Bradley said. “My current students are absolutely amazing. Just continuing to be hungry and growing and developing on a daily basis and once again, it’s truly an honor to do what I do and serve the community that I do.”

Born and raised in Henrico County, Bradley started his band in 6th Grade, eventually joining the Hermitage High School Band in 9th Grade. After graduating and studying at Hampton University, Bradley began his work at Suffolk Public Schools, to which he notes a family connection with the city.

“The main thing that actually drew me to Suffolk Public Schools is this is actually where my family’s from. So, with my mother, my grandparents, pretty much my entire family lives in Suffolk, which is actually kind of [funny] now considering that I am actually teaching some of my cousins in the school system, in fact even in the band,” Bradley said. “So Suffolk is actually near and dear to my heart because that’s pretty much a hometown for us.”

Likewise, Bradley provided a message of inspiration to his students and his family.

“I will always say above all else: take advantage of opportunities in life, never be afraid to put yourself out there and as I was telling many students now, I am not a product of this simply by just being good at what I do. I found good mentorship, I found people who took the time to help me, who continue to help me to cultivate me to be the best music educator and person that I can be,” Bradley said. “Whatever you do in life, take time and find a mentor. Somebody who can give you the positives and the negatives of the job so you can take that information and come up with your own style in whatever you do in life.”