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Eastern Elementary will see a transition in June as Principal Sharon Bright retires, opening the way for its new leader, Chelsey Tingle.
Bright served in Henry County schools for 24 years, after going to Kentucky State for her undergrad work and completing her graduate work at University of Louisville.
The retiring principal described herself as a non-traditional student who didn’t pursue a college degree until after she had children of her own.
Part of the inspiration to become a teacher arose from her work with the children at her church, Pleasureville Baptist, including teaching children’s Sunday school and missiongroup.
“I loved working with kids and I wanted to make a difference in some small way.”Bright, a graduate of Henry County schools herself hailing from Franklinton, felt blessed and fortunate to be hired by the school system.
She began teaching sixth grade at New Castle, went to teach sixth when it got transferred to the middle school, moved to Eastern Elementary where she taught fifth grade and served as principal for 10 years there.
“I love this school,” Bright said. “The people here are amazingly dedicated to the community. The staff here works like a family. We’re a team. I was lucky to get this position.”
Bright decided to retire after her husband had a health scare earlier this year. That caused her to begin to reevaluate her time. “Life is short,” she said.
She intends to spend more time with family and friends and possibly travel.
“It has been a gift, it has been rewarding beyond measure,” Bright said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than to see a child grow in confidence and have success in their learning.”
Educators at Eastern work long hours and give so much of themselves, she said. The educators want to prepare the children for the brightest possible future.
“If anything I’ve accomplished has been good, it’s because of the staff ,” Bright said.
When Chelsey Tingle’s tenure starts, she hopes to continue the really great work that got underway under Bright.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity of the community they have there,” the new principal said.
She looks forward to joining the school and its 206 students and learning about the community.
“Just to embrace the community, and, hopefully, they embrace me.”
Tingle began working with Henry County schools this year as the college and career readiness counselor with the Race to the Top program.
Prior to that, she served as a special education teacher with Eminence Elementary for five years.
When she attended University of Kentucky in 2008 and received her bachelors of arts in sociology, Tingle said that probably arose from being “in denial” about wanting to be a teacher.
The same year, she began her masters in learning from Kentucky State University, and followed that up with a masters of arts and educational instructional leadership from the University of the Cumberlands in 2012.
“I’ve always enjoyed being with children and working with children — taught dance all through high school,” she said. “I really enjoyed being with kids.”
Beginning as a substitute, Tingle found she could get into the classroom quicker by getting her alternative certificate.
After getting hired by Eminence schools, she had a lot of opportunities to serve on committees and the site-based council, and realized she enjoyed working with adults and faculty, too.
This allowed her to work quite a bit with teachers, helping with data analysis and collaborating on lesson plans.
“I enjoy that side of it — coaching teacher, helping them feel confidence themselves, helping them do what’s best for kids,” Tingle said. “My ultimate goal is always to do what’s best for kids.”
Getting to know the Eastern Elementary community is next on the agenda.
“I’m very grateful for all of the experiences that have led me to this opportunity,” Tingle said. “I look forward to many years at Eastern.”
Henry County schools Superintendent Tim Abrams praised Bright for her career and her leadership at Eastern for the last ten years, saying she’s done an awesome job.
Tingle will be the fourth principal of the elementary school, following Earl Holmes, Brad Hargrove and Bright.
Tingle will be a good fit at Eastern, Abrams expects.
“Eastern is a wonderful elementary school with outstanding student achievement and wonderful parent and community support,” the superintendent said. “[Tingle] has a wonderful work ethic and is a very intelligent lady. I know that because I was her middle school principal and I watched her grow up…”