Larry Bird was born in Apple Valley at St. Mary Medical Center and went to Apple Valley schools through fourth grade. His parents and grandfather were teachers dad Larry Bird taught at Hesperia Junior High, mom at Del Rey Elementary, grandfather Larry Bird at Victor Valley High School. His grandfather was also a pastor at the little church on C Avenue and Main Street.


The family moved to Michigan, where his dad had his first head basketball coaching job in Adrian, Mich. after assisting Coach Ollie Butler at Victor Valley High School for five years.


The family finally ended up in Ridgecrest where he went to junior high and high school, graduating from Burroughs High. Bird attended Point Loma Nazarene University and became a teacher at Juniper Elementary 25 years ago. He had a chance to be on the staff that started Ranchero Middle School under Mike Smith. Bird became a principal at Mesa Grande Elementary School in 1994, moved to be principal at Ranchero in 2000, became director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in 2005, and principal of Sultana High School in 2010.



Q: What do people not know about your job?


A: How tremendously fulfilling it is. It certainly is my mission to make a difference in the lives of young people and adults at and connected to our school. However, I am blessed every day by the people that I interact with students, parents, faculty and community members. I really believe that I have the best job in the world!



Q: What is the best thing about your job?


A: Again, working with our students. These are our next teachers, doctors, lawyers and business people. I have a chance to have a small part in their lives. It makes me take things seriously keeping a safe campus and ensuring that all students learn.



Q: Tell us about one thing you want to accomplish in life.


A: My personal mission is to always glorify Christ. I would like to live my life so that others will see Him in me. I'm not always the best messenger, but He keeps working in me. In my profession, I cannot proselytize so it's important to live my life in a way that others can see Him in me. "Lifestyle evangelism" we call it.



Q: What is your greatest accomplishment, professional or personal, to date?


A: Raising three wonderful children with an incredibly gifted, understanding and supportive wife.



Q: Where would you like to be in 10 years?


A: Sultana High School as the principal of the top school in the nation.



Q: What makes you tick?


A: As I mentioned earlier, Christ is the center of my existence. I was raised in a Christian home. My grandfather became a minister his last 20 years. I just want to live my life for Jesus as a dad, husband and principal.



Q: What is the source of your values?


A: Christ. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."



Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?


A: There are several. Growing up my parents had a huge impact on me as did my grandparents. I really had two dads. We lived so close to my grandparents. My grandfather and grandmother led me to Christ. My dad set the bar high for what I was expected to do in life. My mom helped me with so many things. I've had many teachers who had a great impact on me. But, perhaps the person who has had the greatest impact on me is my wife. She is an amazing person who is not only a great teacher but a super mom and wife. I get a lot of credit in this family. But, she is truly the glue that holds us all together. I definitely married up!



Q: What is your favorite quotation?


A: A couple verses and couple quotes from John Wooden are dear to me. "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Every day is important!) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he'll make your path straight." "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." Finally, "Make every day your masterpiece."



Q: Tell us about your belief system.


A: It all stems from our purpose here on earth. I believe Christ has saved me from my sins, and has given me a wonderful opportunity to serve Him. As long as He needs me, I want to be ready!



Q: What motivates you?


A: To use my talents to help get the most out of others and to serve the Lord.



Q: What is your secret to living a happy, satisfying life?


A: Realizing how precious each day is and how incredibly blessed we are to be able to live each day. The first part of my daily prayer is always a thank you that I got another day to live.



Q: What is something you are particularly proud of?


A: I am proud of my children. Anyone who knows me knows that they are an incredible joy to me. I know I expect a lot from them, but they have been given several talents which they must use for God's glory. Much has been given, much is expected.



Q: What book had a significant impact on you?


A: The Bible has had the greatest impact on me. It is the road map for my life. I do love reading books. There are many that have been life changing but the one that is most special to me was "Zeke from Cabin Creek: The Story of Jerry West." My dad read this to me when I was young, and I always wanted to be like Jerry West. He was my first hero outside of my family. I still am impressed with him and how he has remained so humble even though he has been so successful.



Q: What are five things you can't live without?


A: I would not want to live without my faith, my family, my home, my school and my friends.



Q: What words of advice do you have for younger generations?


A: Reach your potential by expecting more from yourself than you think possible. I find so many talented young people in my profession who just need someone to nudge them and believe in them in order for them to accomplish great things. Fortunately, I have tremendous teachers and coaches at Sultana who are able to help our students be successful.



Q: What is your passion?


A: My passion is for our young generation, starting with my children and their friends, and moving on to my students at Sultana. I just want them to graduate and be successful.



Q: What do you do in your free time?


A: Spend time with my family, read, watch Sultana performers and athletes, and run.



Q: Which three people, living or from history, would you like to have at a dinner party, and why?


A: Jesus, my granddad and my dad. All three are responsible for the compass of my life.



Q: What's your favorite movie and why?


A: "Mr. Holland's Opus." It is a great movie about the tremendous impact of a teacher on so many people. As educators we have an incredible opportunity to impact young people. But, we make a difference not only in their lives, but through them, in the lives the people they come in contact with. I think of all the teachers, including my dad, who had an influence on me. The gifts I have been given from them, I have passed on to others.


Mr. Holland was an example of that. Most recently, we had a teacher, Mr. Carl Dominik, pass away. He was a great choir teacher. To hear all of his students past and present talk about the influence on their lives was amazing.



Q: Tell us about a special vacation.


A: My honeymoon will always be my favorite and most special. My wife and I went to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Like I said, I married up. Anything I have been able to do has been a result of my faith and my life partner, Julie!



Q: If you had three wishes, what would they be?


A: Continued good health for me and my family, love for all the unloved children, wisdom to make the best decision each time.



Q: What's your favorite guilty pleasure?


A: Brownies and Jelly Bellies Hot Tamales too!



Q: Tell us about your first car.


A: My parents got me a Chevy Luv pickup truck. My siblings and I literally drove it into the ground. It was a great vehicle. Finally, I didn't have to borrow someone's car. I could leave my back pack in it. I had independence. It was huge for me. I didn't get it until I was 20, so I think I appreciated it because of that.



Q: What's the best thing about living in Hesperia?


A: It is home. I wouldn't trade it. We can go anywhere in a relatively short period of time and still come back to the beautiful view of the mountains and desert.



Q: Tell us about the charities that are close to your heart and why.


A: We support our church because of the amazing amount of support we receive and because we are to do so. Through Compassion International, we support a little girl in Haiti with a monthly contribution. My daughter, Cassie, communicates with her several times a year. Finally, Kiwanis is a great service organization. We support many important projects and groups.



Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Hesperia?


A: La Casita is my favorite place. I love Mexican food and I enjoy eating here. Their salsa is the best, and they treat us well. Besides, they hired one of our students at Sultana!



Q: How can readers reach you?


A: Larry.Bird@hesperiausd.org


Who would you like to see profiled in an upcoming Q&A? Drop us a line at Editor@HesperiaStar.com.