Principal Heather Bridgers

Our speaker this Tuesday was Principal Heather Bridgers from Surf City Middle School. Principal Bridgers has almost 20-years in education, first as a teacher, and then moving through administrative positions until becoming principle. One of the first things she said to us was that “Kiwanis empowers our school through your contributions in volunteer hours and grant funds to our teachers.”

This school year has been a real challenge for teachers, students, staff, parents and others due to the effects of the Global Pandemic known as COVID-19. Many students had difficulties adjusting to Pender County’s Remote Learning program when the school buildings had to be closed to in-school learning. For these students, a “gap” in learning developed that has been difficult for their teachers to overcome when students returned to in-school learning this year. As the pandemic continues and with in-school learning back, Principal Bridgers said that the first she had to do each day was to find which teachers would be out due to following the school system’s COVID policies for a safe school environment. Some days that number of teachers out approached 13 leaving Principal Bridgers scrambling to find enough subs!

Principal Bridgers described the emotional effects that COVID has had on both students and teachers. The school system does have an in-school program for students to talk about their feelings with the school social worker. When students are away from their circle of school friends each day, this can lead to a disconnect from their environment an issue that the school is trying to address. When students return to the classroom, some have lost the social skill of ‘being polite’ to their teachers and each other. Likewise teachers also can feel ‘stressed’ because they know their students have developed the “gap” in their learning curve – a frustrating situation that really will take more than the current school year to overcome.

Now that Surf City Middle is back in the classroom, Principle Bridgers mentioned some special programs that had really become popular with the students including an art program, and band. Again the financial support that Kiwanis provides helps to alleviate this pressure on the teachers. The Kiwanis funds this year will go towards a band project, school counselor project, and new picnic tables for our courtyard. The ‘courtyard’ is a multi-year project with the aim of providing an outdoor learning environment for the students.

Principal Bridgers, her teachers and staff have plans for the further growth of facilities at the school, such as a walking path around the school grounds including the adjoining Surf City Elementary. In addition, she strives to continue meeting requirements to make Surf City Middle a ‘Green School’ that promotes wellness of students, staff, and teachers as well as minimizing the impact on the environment.

Visit the Surf City Middle School website “Home of the Sharks!” to learn more about the school and happenings – click here