• Pulse of CCSD - Bridget Nelson is guided by faith in all she does

  • Nelson - Pulse of CCSDThere is a phrase that stays on repeat in Bridget Nelson’s head – “faith over fear; progress over perfection.” That saying guides her personally and professionally.  

    Nelson has had a well-rounded career working in the public and private sectors, and contributing to non-profits and her beloved sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated - Gamma Zeta Chapter. In all of her roles, Nelson found herself in a position of service. Today, she is the new student data specialist at Hunley Park Elementary School, serving students and families in various capacities.

    A lifelong resident of the Lowcountry, Nelson most recently worked in administrative roles in the healthcare industry. Before that, she was a Charleston County School District (CCSD) bus driver. Nelson’s discipline, attention to detail, and leadership skills have allowed her to be successful in any role she finds herself.

    “I stepped into this role with limited knowledge of the system but quickly learned the ins and outs,” said Nelson. “I had numerous people train me and help me navigate this new role.”

    Nelson did not need any training on how to help students and families, though.

    “As a mother of four, I understood and empathized with families who need a voice at the school,” said Nelson. “In my role, I can explain our attendance policies and requirements to families more clearly. In other instances, I help them navigate anything they need help with.”

    According to Principal Dr. Katchia Gethers, although Nelson only recently started in this position in July 2023, she has learned the job quickly and invested a lot of her own personal time to learn more about her roles and responsibilities. 

    “She is well organized and has done an amazing job with our records,” said Gethers. “So much so that we were told by the multilingual department that our vault was outstanding. She has built relationships with our students and families in the short time she has been here. She truly epitomizes keeping students at the heart of our work.” 

    Nelson has built a family not only among her colleagues in the school building but also around the mentors across the district who helped train her for the position.

    DeAndre Curtis and Debra Griggs, her Data Quality Coordinators, sent Katherine Johnson from W.B. Goodwin Elementary School to help Nelson lay the foundation for her work at Hunley.

    Nelson said she would never forget what Johnson did to help her get started.

    Leslie Brown from Pepperhill Elementary School and Tamela Campbell from Lambs Elementary School were others who were instrumental in her success.

    “Without these specialists from area schools helping me bridge the gap in understanding, I’m not sure where I’d be,” Nelson added.

    Nelson’s office is close to the front desk, so she can easily assist families as they come in, which furthers her ability to get to know them on a personal level.

    “That way if I have to make personal calls home to request medical documentation for an absence, they know who I am when I introduce myself,” said Nelson. “As we build relationships with each other, we can more easily talk through solutions, which improves our truancy numbers because parents better understand the process.”

    In keeping with the Department of Student Support’s theme for the year, “Show Up to Glow Up,” Nelson is paying close attention to student absences and working with families when needed to address any roadblocks they have regarding attendance. Additionally, Nelson works closely with the school’s multilingual department to assist Spanish-speaking families, which is necessary to the mission of serving all families. Daira Diaz Anastacio and Patsy Castrejon Jimenez have assisted Nelson in those correspondences. 

    Nelson is also modeling what other staff members do when it comes to working with the students one-on-one.

    “Everyone has those days when they need a little extra love or attention,” said Nelson. “I’ve made a special calm-down area in my office where students can come if they just need a minute. I am getting to know the kids here at Hunley Park, and they are all so well-mannered and special. If I can help them in any way, my door is always open.”

    In addition to addressing attendance and being a trusted adult in the building, Nelson ensures all grades are logged and made available to parents. She also works closely with agencies such as the south Carolina Department of Social Services when necessary.

    “This work is much more gratifying than the hospital work,” said Nelson. “In the hospital, a patient gets better and we send them home. I would never know the outcome of their life after that. In this work, I get to see these families and kids every day and be a part of their lives.”

    Parents are the best teachers

    Nelson - PulseNelson’s parents have over 50 years of experience in the workforce. Her mother was the Clerk of Court for the Town of Monks Corner for 40 years. Nelson said she set an example for her by showing grace and patience. Her dad started at the Naval Shipyard in Charleston until it closed. He is now at Santee Cooper—Cross Generating Station, still going strong as a diesel mechanic/welder. Nelson said that he taught her to use the tools to navigate the success of life. 

    “Sometimes, you must use more than one tool to complete a task,” said Nelson. “Set a goal, work through the progress, and watch the prize.”

    Nelson sometimes has to have tough conversations. She said the key is to listen.

    “There is an art to communicating properly,” said Nelson. “I am still a work in progress. Dr. Gethers has invested in me to continue to improve so I can better serve our families. She is always here to help guide me, and my mother is always in my heart whispering to me the importance of showing empathy.”

    Nelson likens some of her work to a customer service position.

    “When we build relationships, we build trust,” said Nelson. Ideally, I will be working with these families for the next five years. I need to make sure they know I have their best interest at heart.”

    Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. Nelson chooses faith in her everyday walk, which guides her through every step of every day.