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June 20, 2013

Outgoing city schools leader Bridges reflects on experience

— Dr. Orman Bridges Jr. has attended more school board meetings than probably he can even remember. 

Tuesday was his last.

The superintendent of Athens City Schools for the past 10 years announced his retirement in February. He officially retires on July 1.

Bridges has worked in education and administration for 41 years, primarily in Mississippi and Alabama.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group to have worked with than what I had here at Athens City Schools,” Bridges said.

The 63-year-old reflected on school board accomplishments under his tenure.

“Just being a part of the facility changes and the academic changes that we have been able to do here I very proud of both of those in every way,” Bridges said.

One recent accomplishment has been the creation of the Central Office on U.S. 31, not far from Athens High School. Bridges sees it as a huge advantage for staffers who work at the Central Office level.

“Having them spread out over the city made it very difficult for communication and efficiency,” he noted.

Bridges has seen many things change during his career in education, but one area leaves the most lasting impression.

“I think that technology has probably made the most change in what I have seen in the number of years I’ve been in education and that has been, I think, for the positive,” Bridges said. “That is one instrument that has changed the landscape over the years.”

Bridges said that what made his job so enjoyable was how much his colleagues cared about students.

“They were all just very interested in children,” Bridges said. “Interested in doing what was best for children.”

The retiring superintendent looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and relaxing on the golf course.

Bridges says he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet beyond that, but he doesn’t plan to look for any full-time work at the moment.

He does, however, plan to remain in the Athens area with his wife, Linda.

“We like the community,” Bridges said. “We feel very much at home in Athens.”

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