Congratulations to Episcopal’s Bridget Henderson! Bridget was voted the Favorite Private Elementary School Principal in Baton Rouge by readers of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine! On any given day, you can find Bridget wishing students a happy birthday in Morning Meeting, visiting with faculty about the lessons they have planned or even spending time with PreK students in the garden. Her love for children is obvious and infectious.
“I always knew I wanted to be in education,” says Bridget, who grew up not far from Baton Rouge in Gonzales. “We played school a lot.” As the baby of a family with eight children, Bridget had plenty of siblings on which to practice her teaching skills. She says while her mother wasn’t a teacher, she raised the family as if she were. Bridget remembers a yellow suitcase in her mother’s closet full of treasures that young students need to succeed. Whenever there was a school project, Bridget and her siblings would crack open the case to find sticky letters, construction paper, fabric and sequins. “We were inspired to think creatively,” says Bridget. She remembers playing in the yard, imagining shapes among the clouds and inventing her own fun.
Family is a key component of Bridget’s life. Growing up her parents built onto the family home so that her grandparents could have a separate space close by. Having her grandparents so near meant Bridget had the opportunity to play cards with her grandmother’s friends. She learned to cook. She learned to tie her shoes before she was two. She also developed a strong sense of independence.
“I was born independent,” says Bridget. Bridget always had a desire to lead and she says she took every opportunity to do so. She was very involved in school from an early age at St. Theresa Elementary School. She continued to seek leadership opportunities and became the head cheerleader, a class officer and a member of the high school student council. She was a member of the Beta Club song and dance talent group that won a national title. During her senior year, the cheerleading squad also placed in nationals. While at LSU, she chaired homecoming festivities for her sorority, Delta Zeta. She says the project was a large undertaking and ironically, she earned her highest GPA the semester she tackled it.
Bridget draws from her faith to guide her life. That guidance has come in the form of gentle nudges along the way. For example, the nudges helped her decide between teaching jobs at two area Catholic schools. She eventually became the Episcopal Lower School Division Head after another nudge. She had initially applied for the role of Director of Extended Care. While on campus interviewing for the extended care role, she was approached twice in three minutes by members of the Episcopal community encouraging her to seek the division head role. After teaching for several years at Episcopal, she was happy to return to Lower School as the division head. That joy and enthusiasm for helping children learn has not faded, even after nine years on campus. Bridget knows every student by first name. She reads the books the students have been assigned so that she can chat with them about what they’re reading. She celebrates every student and each teacher’s birthday at Morning Meeting. “I refer to Morning Meeting as my spiritual vitamin,” says Bridget. “It is what each person in Lower School needs to start the day off just right. The community time we share with songs, worship, valuable lessons, special presentations, and birthdays is arguably the most important thing we do each day.”
When she’s not celebrating her Lower School children, Bridget spends as much time as she can with her own family. “I would love for more hours in the day and days of the week for grandbabies, great books, and beach trips,” she says. Bridget loves cooking for her family and is an avid baseball fan. Lately, she has become a fan of the Baton Rouge Community College Bears as her son, Thomas, was recently named the Head Baseball Coach after coaching and teaching at West Monroe High School.
Teaching is a family tradition for Bridget and her husband, Kenny. All three children in their blended family are educators. Maggie recently took a leave from teaching to spend time with Bridget’s two grandsons, Greer and Griffin. Bridget sees the boys as often as she can with Maggie and her husband, Jarred, living in Alexandria. In addition, Taylor is in her first year as a fifth grade teacher at Trinity Episcopal Day School. Taylor and her husband, Brandon, welcomed Bridget’s first granddaughter, Annie, this summer. As you might expect from someone so dedicated to children, Bridget relishes every moment she has with her three grandchildren. She says she is indulgent with the time she dedicates to them and the memories they make together.
Any discussion of Bridget’s family would be lacking without a mention of her four-legged family members. For as long as she can remember, Bridget has been devoted to her pets. In addition to being a mom to three children, she also considers herself a mom to cats, Solomon and Sanibel.
Bridget is passionate about education and helping students grow. She is also passionate about supporting her staff and working together to build a community. “Bridget is an outstanding Division Head,” says Lower School Administrative Assistant Casie Burley. “She cares tremendously about the safety, happiness and success of our students and inspires us all to do and be our best selves. We are fortunate to have her lead us daily.”
Episcopal’s Lower School community truly is a family, thanks to Bridget’s leadership and the dedication of the faculty and staff. It’s no wonder that Bridget was recognized as Baton Rouge Parents Magazine’s Family Favorites Private Elementary School Principal. It’s also no wonder that PreK was honored as the Family Favorites Preschool and Lower School was named the Family Favorites Private Elementary School.
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