Joyce Winfrey Bridges, 86, of Wynnefield, a retired educator in the Philadelphia public schools, died Wednesday, July 24, of congestive heart failure at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Mrs. Bridges was educated in the School District of Philadelphia. After pursuing advanced degrees, she returned to the district, where she enriched the lives of students and colleagues.
Her legacy to the School District was her teaching style and upbeat personality, said retired School Superintendent Constance E. Clayton.
“She was an outstanding teacher, but more important, her many former students were deeply appreciative of her caring, resourceful work with them,” Clayton said. “She was well-respected by colleagues and parents, and children absolutely loved her.
“She never wrote off any child, and parents made adamant requests for their children to be placed in her classes. She was keenly observant, watching to see how children socialized, shared, and played. She was also a terrific mentor working with new teachers to do lesson planning.”
Mrs. Bridges believed children had a right to be taught well, Clayton said. Part of the learning process came from observing the world around them, and part came from interacting with others.
“She involved the children in the teaching process,” Clayton said. “Children learn from each other.”
Born in West Philadelphia, Mrs. Bridges was the only child of Edward C. Winfrey and Azalia Harris Winfrey.
She grew up in Philadelphia and graduated in 1950 from the Philadelphia High School for Girls. In 1954, Mrs. Bridges graduated from Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio. She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. In 1959, she earned a master’s degree in education from Temple University.
From 1954 to 1962, Mrs. Bridges taught elementary education in Camden. From 1967 to 1989, she taught kindergarten at the William D. Kelly School and then the Alfred M. Greenfield School, both in Philadelphia.
Her son, Sidney E. Bridges, an independent-school educator, said she kept the kindergartners engaged by reading aloud, singing songs, and taping paper decorations to the classroom windows.
“Mom taught children not only to read, but also to be joyful about discovering the world throughout their lives,” he said.
From 1990 to 1993 when she retired, Mrs. Bridges was an instructional support teacher in the district, passing on her methods to younger educators.
Over the years, she also mentored student teachers at Temple, Drexel University, and Community College of Philadelphia.
In the summer of 1960, she met a young dentist named Sidney R. Bridges through mutual friends. They married and settled in Wynnefield, where they raised two children. He had a dental office at 40th Street and Girard Avenue.
Mrs. Bridges was an avid reader who enjoyed learning about history and art. After retiring, she took art enrichment courses at the Barnes Foundation. She developed an interest in African American art and in antique glass, and enjoyed sharing the history of the pieces with friends.
“We went out together looking for art,” Clayton said. “It was fun.”
In the last several years, Mrs. Bridges began learning watercolor painting and sculpting. She also enjoyed travel, her family said.
Mrs. Bridges was a member of the Overbrook Presbyterian Church and was an active resident of Rosemont Presbyterian Village, where she moved in 2011. She was a nurturing presence for staff members at the senior community.
“She was esteemed for her dynamic ambassadorship, outspoken advocacy, and warm welcoming of new residents,” her son said.
Her husband died in 2012. Besides her son, she is survived by a daughter, Sheila A. Bridges, an interior designer.
Services and burial will be private.