Bridges named lone finalist
Bridges, 47, is currently the chief secondary education officer at Grand Prairie ISD in the Metroplex. Grand Prairie is a Class 5A district.
If officially hired, she would become the first ever female to hold RISD’s top job.
Texas school boards use the term “lone finalist” to avoid having to reveal the name of all the persons interviewed for the position.
Af ter the lone f inal ist is approved there is a state-mandated 21-day waiting period, at the end of which the school board will formally hire the superintendent designate.
A meeting to officially hire Bridges is set for Monday, July 1—the end of that three week waiting period.
SKILL SET—In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Bridges told The Reporter she was drawn to the district’s needs and also to the town’s feel.
“When I looked at a place to put out my application, I wanted to be sure it fit my skill set. I wanted to help support the vision the district had and look at the factors that were causing the discomfort (in the district),” she said. “I know they want their academics to be better and feel like they are going through (trials) with the STARR and EOC tests. I have a lot of experience in trying to help navigate those waters.”
She liked the atmosphere of the town when she visited as well.
“When I came down for my interview I left a little early and drove around and interacted with some kids at McDonald’s and got a feel for the town. It has this gentle, slow, peacefulness about it,” Bridges said. “And the school board there cares so deeply about the school system.”
Bridges was set to meet with Central Administration staff on Thursday afternoon.
BACKGROUND— Br idges is a graduate of Bonham High School and received her Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas State University in Commerce and her Masters in Education from Texas A&M- Commerce. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education Leadership at Walden University.
She began her teaching career as an eighth grade science teacher at Grand Prairie ISD, working her way up to assistant principal at the middle and high school level and high school principal.
In her current position, Bridges is responsible for the continuous system-wide improvement of 14 campuses.
In 2008, while principal at South Garland High School, Bridges was selected for a summer leadership program at the prestigious Harvard University.
‘APPROACHABLE’—Lee Jenkins, RISD board president, said that Bridges was just the right fit.
“She is knowledgeable, excited, energetic and hard working,” Jenkins said. “She is the most approachable person you will find. She has been around in a big district.”
Jenkins said that trustees Lin Perry, Michelle Lehmkuhl and Kent Bowermon visited Bridges’ home district on Monday and met with about 50 people.
“Each one of them said about the same thing, that you aren’t going to out work her and she is dedicated,” Jenkins said.
Only three trustees participated in the site visit to avoid forming a quorum and risk a possible violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
SEARCH—Trustees spent most of May in an involved process to select a successor to Dr. Howell Wright, whose contract extends through the end of June.
A total of 33 persons applied for the position being vacated by Dr. Wright, who has served as RISD superintendent since 2010.
Five candidates were interviewed out of those 33.
Dr. Bob W. Griggs & Associates of Fort Worth conducted numerous public and private meetings with Rockdale residents, and numerous employees of the Rockdale ISD. A “superintendent profile” was presented to trustees and was used during the candidate evaluation process.
Age—47 Education—Bachelors of Science from East Texas State; Masters in Education from Texas A&M-Commerce. Currently pursuing doctorate in Educational Leadership at Walden University. Bonham High School. Current position— Chief Secondary Education Officer, Grand Prairie ISD. Education experience—20 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. First job—8th grade science teacher in Grand Prairie. Person she most admires— Her grandmother.