By Richard Sullins |

Betsy Bridges, who was named principal of Lee County High School in June of 2021, will retire this summer after more than 30 years of working in the county’s school district. Her decision is three years earlier than expected.

In a newsletter emailed to the school’s faculty and staff late Sunday afternoon, Bridges wrote that “my original intention was to put in five years at LCHS, but my family must come first.” She plans to become a “full-time grandma” who will look after a toddler while her daughter learns the family business.

Bridges is a 31-year veteran of public education who began her career as a teacher at the elementary level and served as Lee County Schools’ reading coach and intervention specialist before moving into administration in 2012.

She served at principal at San Lee Middle School from 2013 until being named principal at Lee County High School in June 2021. She took over duties at the high school from interim LCHS Principal Greg Batten, who led the school following the retirement of Principal Steven Ross in 2020.

Co-workers describe her as “just incredible” and unafraid to make hard decisions. Last year, the high school was among four in Lee County to be labeled by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as “low performing,” meaning that the school had “received a school performance grade of D or F, and a school growth score of “met expected growth” or “not met expected growth.”

Appearing before the school board last September and October, Bridges outlined a plan to address the identified problem areas and make the kind of improvements that will get Lee County High School return to academic excellence. Although she will have been retired for several months when the results of her efforts to turn things around are themselves graded, she’s confident on how things are going to turn out.

“I believe we have worked hard together and achieved some great rebuilding in the last two years and hope we will see positive results on our end-of-year scores,” she wrote Sunday to her co-workers. “I know you can feel it in our school.”

The next regularly scheduled board of education meeting where a successor to Bridges might be named is on the calendar for Tuesday, May 9.