Playground to be built at Siler City Elementary in memory of longtime teacher Janet Bridges

Posted 9/15/21

Nearly nine months after beloved Siler City Elementary School teacher Janet Brady Bridges’ death on Christmas Day, the Chatham County Schools Board of Education approved a donation to install a bench and musical playground equipment at SCE in her memory.

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Playground to be built at Siler City Elementary in memory of longtime teacher Janet Bridges

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Posted

PITTSBORO — Nearly nine months after beloved Siler City Elementary School teacher Janet Brady Bridges’ death on Christmas Day, the Chatham County Schools Board of Education approved a donation from her sister, Sandi Brady, to install a bench and musical playground equipment at SCE in her memory.

“My hope is that her positive influence can continue as long as it can,” Brady told the board, “and also sitting there’ll be like a grieving process for us and the school and community.”

The board unanimously approved the request, later thanking and applauding Brady. The donation is expected to be between $6,000 and $7,000; per board policy, donations over $5,000 require board approval.

Bridges, born in Chatham County, was 45 when she died and in her 22nd year of teaching at Siler City Elementary. Friends and co-workers told the News + Record that Bridges had died from COVID-19 complications, which death records filed with the county’s register of deeds later confirmed.

She was a lifelong member of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Bennett, where she was the pianist — known for her solos, wedding music and love for Jesus. She also attended New Salem Baptist Church in Pittsboro. She loved to offer encouragement and “always had a kind word for everyone she met,” her obituary said, and she loved her family deeply.

Among Chatham students and staff, Bridges was regarded especially for kindness and a beautiful smile.

“It was the most beautiful smile,” her co-worker Alirio Estevez said in December, “even with a mask on.”

Siler City Elementary Principal Tania Poston emailed her school community following Bridges’ death to alert them of the news and extend counseling services to them. Bridges most recently worked as an ESL teacher with 1st and 2nd grade students.

“She not only taught our children but also — as someone extremely gifted musically — shared her special talents with the adults and students in our school,” Poston wrote. “Ms. Bridges will be greatly missed by our entire school community.”

“I dare say,” her sister, Brady, told the board Monday, “you’ll be hard pressed to find a teacher that loved her job and her people more.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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