Bessemer Elementary opened its doors in October, 1900 under the leadership of principal Walter Jones and assistant principal Florence Evans. The school started in a log building on a lot facing Bessemer Avenue which, at that time, was just a wagon trail. Approximately 60 students were enrolled and the school's curriculum was The 3 R's: reading, writing and arithmetic.
Both Bessemer Elementary and Bessemer Avenue got their names from Sir Henry Bessemer. Sir Henry was an English engineer and inventor who founded the process for turning ore into steel. This process later came to be known as the "Bessemer Process".
Several principals came and went at Bessemer until 1911, when Professor W.E. Younts, a Guilford College graduate, took over and remained for 36 years. Originally small and closely knit, the Bessemer Community had begun to grow. This growth increased the number and ages of students at Bessemer such that, when Professor Younts arrived, Bessemer served first through 12th grades and was renamed "Bessemer High School." To accommodate the growing number of students, a bigger school with separate buildings for first through third grades, fourth through eighth grades, and ninth through 12th grades.
After Professor Younts' 36 year tenure as principal, Wendel H. Cude became principal in 1947. He remained in the position until his death in January, 1962. At that time, assistant principal Bob Clendenin took over as principal. Mr. Clendenin remained principal until the high school closed in 1963 due to the deterioration of some of the buildings.
During Mr. Cude's tenure at Bessemer High School, class sizes continued to increase (reaching approximately 31 students per class) and the buildings began to deteriorate. As a result, a new school was built near Bessemer High School at Bessemer's current location - 918 Huffine Mill Road. This building became Bessemer Primary School and it took responsibility for educating the first through third grades that had been served at the High School. Mr. Cude's wife - who was a third grade teacher at Bessemer High School - became Bessemer Primary School's first principal. She continued in that role until her retirement.
Bessemer Primary School took on its current name - Bessemer Elementary School - in 1963.
Below is a list of Bessemer's principals:
- Chelsea Smith (2018-present)
- Catina Chestnut (2016-2018)
- Ronald Dixon (2012-2016)
- Carolyn Haley (2007-2012)
- Wanda Brooks (2007)
- Leslie Dunn (2003-2007)
- Edith Martin (1995- )
- Georgia Marshall (1992-1995)
- Patricia Spicer ( -1992)
- Harold M. Evans (1970-1984)
- Mrs. Cude (1963-1970)