Influencer of the Week: Bernard “Bernie” Hendricks, Ocoee High School

Since the founding of Ocoee High, Hendricks has served as the leader of the music program.

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  • | 12:45 p.m. November 1, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Bernard “Bernie” Hendricks has served as the band director at Ocoee High School since its opening back in 2005. With a deep passion for music and music education, Hendricks keeps busy throughout the school year as he helps his students become better musicians and people. When he’s not teaching, Hendricks takes in his other two passions: cooking and eating.


What do you love most about your school? 

I really love the diversity of Ocoee High School and how things all seem to work. Kids from various backgrounds, races, religions, ethnicities — it all just seems to work out fine.


What brought you to Ocoee?

I spent my first eight years teaching at Robinswood Middle School and I was happy being there. Then I received a message from Mike Armbruster, the principal that opened Ocoee High in 2005. He basically laid out a vision that would bring not just students together, but an entire community and he felt that I was the right person to help create the positive atmosphere that he was looking for. At the time, I really had no plan to be a high school director, but when the opportunity was presented to actually open a school and build the program from the ground up, it was hard to resist.


What’s your favorite part of your job?

By far it is the daily interaction with the students that drives me to be better. Just being a positive part of their day gives me the energy and drive I need to continue. I also love “the grind” of the band world. It never really stops and we are always preparing for the “next thing.”


What’s the nicest thing a student or faculty member has done for you?

I would say one of the nicest things done for me was when former students that met in the band program asked me to officiate their wedding. The couple dated throughout high school and a few years after graduation they got engaged and I actually performed their wedding ceremony. It’s really special building these lasting relationships with my students, and to bring a couple together under God’s presence was truly special. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to join two more former students in marriage. 


What do you like doing in your spare time?

I love to cook and eat! Barbecue is my specialty but I can cook just about anything and eating is just a great hobby!


If you had a Mount Rushmore of four musicians, who would they be?

This is a loaded question and hard to answer because of the wide variety of music that I enjoy. Here is the best I can narrow this down to: Duke Ellington, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson and Outkast (I know that’s two people, but just make them small heads).


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