WOU in the news: After more than 50 years, Jeanne Bridges still devoted to Cummings Elementary School

A picture of Jeanne Bridges cutting out templates for a project.

KEIZER — Jeanne Bridges likes to keep things the same.

“In my whole life, I’m that way, I like things to be just the way they are,” Bridges said.

So it should be no surprise that she has stayed at Cummings Elementary School for more than 50 years.

“I never wanted to go anywhere else,” said Bridges, who grew up in Silverton. “And then after a while, you’ve been there so long, then you really wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Bridges started teaching at Cummings in 1962, mostly fourth-graders. She retired in 1993, but she still shows up each week as a volunteer to help teachers with preparation.

“I love this building, and I love the people that work here,” she said. “I do a lot of laminating. Just about anything that they want to have done, I try to help.”

The faculty and staff at Cummings appreciate the help Bridges provides each week.

“Jeanne does everything that I could possibly need done,” teacher Pat Ozenna said. “Everything from making photocopies, collating pages, cutting out things that I need, laminating things, getting them all organized. She saves me countless of hours every week.”

Judy Olson, an instructional assistant, agreed.

“She’s a very good teacher. Really cares about her work, cares about the kids, the well-rounded part of the child, not just the education of the child,” Olson said. “She will do anything you need her to do.”

Bridges went to Oregon College of Education, now Western Oregon University, and was recruited by the school district and placed in Cummings.

“I did not ever have to go through a real big job search or anything, and they put me into Cummings almost right away,” said Bridges, who was recognized as Volunteer of the Month at the school board meeting in October.

Throughout her career, Bridges wanted to stick to teaching elementary students, preferably fourth-graders.

“I really did. I like that age. They’re funny and they tell jokes,” she said. “They don’t need so much help as when you get into kindergarten.”

Bridges volunteers once a week at Cummings, and when she’s not in the school, she enjoys traveling.

“My husband and I have a motor home that we just got last year, and so we’re trying to travel some,” she said.

Bridges said she isn’t sure how much longer she will continue volunteering.

“Every year I think, ‘OK, I’m going to go again,’” she said. “If something happens, if I feel it’s too much, then I’ll quit. But I haven’t quit yet.”

Published by Statesman Journal
By Pete Martini