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Job was to love: Bridgeport’s Lemoine prepares for retirement

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018
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Goodbye Mrs Lemoine

GOODBYE, MRS. LEMOINE – Bridgeport Intermediate School Principal Rita Lemoine is surrounded by her teachers at her retirement party Wednesday. Lemoine has worked for BISD since 1984. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For more than 60 years, school has been Rita Lemoine’s life.

From student to teacher to vice principal to principal, her days have revolved around education. That will soon change as the Bridgeport Intermediate principal retires this summer.

“She’s made a tremendous impact on the kids,” Superintendent Brandon Peavey said. “I’ve been blessed to work with her for a year. She will be missed.”

Surprise

SURPRISE – Rita Lemoine walks into her retirement party Wednesday afternoon. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Growing up in Louisiana, Lemoine was the second oldest of eight children. As a child, she set up a classroom in the family dining room, directing her younger siblings in their “lessons.” As they all attended Catholic school, Lemoine had a nun costume she would wear as she practiced teaching.

“I got over the nun thing, but not the teaching thing,” she said.

Lemoine moved with her husband to Decatur in 1983 and started teaching at Bridgeport Middle School in 1984. She started the school’s first dyslexia reading program in the ’80s, and one of her students in that class, Kristy Green, is now the intermediate school’s dyslexia therapist.

Green remembers Lemoine writing letters to her in the summer when she was a child, supporting Green even outside of class.

“I told her I wanted to be her,” Green said. “I became what she was for me.”

Lemoine was named the assistant principal at Bridgeport Elementary in 1995 and the intermediate principal in 2014. Her teachers at the intermediate school praised the way Lemoine makes kids and teachers alike feel at home.

“She loves the kids so much,” fifth grade teacher Shelly Moody said. “She knows all their names.

“She’s the kind of administrator who makes you want to come to work. We’re so sad she’s leaving.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I’m a little excited [to retire],” Lemoine said. “I’m a lot sad.

“I love the people here. I love the continuity. I have teachers here who were my students, and I’ve known their families for years. I’m proud of this school and the teachers … I’ve been here so long I do think I’ve learned everything here.”

After Lemoine announced her retirement, a middle school teacher she taught wrote her a letter saying “I’ve never been at Bridgeport ISD without you.” It’s just one keepsake for Lemoine to take when she leaves, along with an abundance of cards from current students.

“One little girl wrote, ‘I think Mrs. Lemoine’s job is to be the principal and to love us,'” Lemoine said, tearing up. “That’s it. That’s the job.”

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