About Gordon Bernell » Overview & Mission

Overview & Mission

Gordon Bernell Community School believes in the transformative power of individualized education, compassion, and community engagement for students of all ages in and outside of incarceration. Through both the high school diploma pathway and an adult education program, Gordon Bernell empowers all students to build a future on a foundation of academic competency and professional readiness. The mission has always been "transforming lives from the inside out."
GBCS operates in consideration of the following core values:
  • All students are capable of academic achievement.
  • Many students thrive in our non-traditional environment, where they are partners in creating individualized and enriching support.
  • Individualized Learning Plans outline academic goals and are founded in social-emotional learning and self-awareness, rooted in a compassionate culture, and approached through the principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Honoring student agency prepares students for a world of interdependence, community engagement and responsibility.
  • Holistic educational philosophy values curious, joyful learning with the importance of academic competency and professional readiness.
  • Adult education is a civil right and directly correlates to the Civil Rights Movement, with many of our older students described in the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit as being educationally underserved.
  • An effective working community values transparency, input, and open communication within the organization. 
  • Enlightened membership at Gordon Bernell Community School balances accountability, respect and professional understanding.
  • Relationships First: Gordon Bernell staff know establishing positive relationships and providing a safe space for authentic engagement with students is the first task in promoting lasting re-commitment to education.
  • Individualized Learning Plan: Gordon Bernell has adopted simplified core components of the special education IEP for all students, understanding that instruction, interventions, and related services are most effective when tailored to the needs of each student.  
  • Focus on School and Community Engagement: Gordon Bernell recognizes that engagement with the school community can lead to engagement with the larger community, encouraging students to take leadership roles, complete community focused projects, and increase their civic awareness and participation. 
  • Guided-Paced Academic Progress: Gordon Bernell student progress is supported by academic and social-emotional advisors to ensure students are consistently hitting academic targets. 
  • Mastery-Based Curriculum: Gordon Bernell curriculum is framed through a mastery-based lens to ensure students can apply and build on learning.
  • Flexible School Schedule: The North 4th campus offers daytime classes between 8:00 am-4:00 pm and an evening school schedule to allow students to engage in school programming at a time that is most convenient for them.  Additional asynchronous off-campus virtual or module-based learning opportunities accommodate the diverse needs of students.  Both the Job Corps and MDC campuses work with those institutions to ensure students have as much access to staff and materials as possible.
  • Multiple Learning Platforms: Gordon Bernell offers direct instruction, small classes, online curriculum and hard copy individualized enrichment modules made to reflect Common Core Standards. 
  • One-on-One Coaching: All Gordon Bernell students are able to schedule one-on-one coaching and academic support with any teacher at their campus to ensure students have the content support they need to gain subject mastery.
This charter school honors the legacy of Gordon Bernell and his family on behalf of the countless lives transformed by his benevolent and inspiring presence at the Bernalillo County Detention Center. Among his many accomplishments were the nation’s first jail-based computerized literacy lab, the Youth Outreach Program, the BCDC Inmate and Child Christmas Program, and a 15,000 book library at the jail.  He was loved and admired by inmates and employees of Bernalillo County throughout his 18 years of service to the community.