In 1950, Bickerdyke and Simpson Elementary Schools were started in Russell to replace the original Southside and Northside Schools. Because the old schools were razed, the school children had to meet in churches around town while the new schools were being built at the same locations. See picture of old Southside, which BES replaced.
The new Southside Elementary School opened in September of 1952. It was still called Southside during this first year. In the following June, Southside was renamed Bickerdyke Elementary School in honor of James R. Bickerdyke, who was the county superintendent from 1889 to 1894. His mother was the woman widely known as "Mother" Bickerdyke, a Civil War nurse who came to the Russell County area to help soldiers returning from the Civil War.
Bickerdyke Elementary School (BES) was dedicated on November 16, 1952. Keith Fitzgerald was principal during the first four years. John Farrell was principal from the fall of 1956 until his retirement in the spring of 1993. Larry Bernard began his duties as principal in the fall of 1993, and in the spring of 1999 he became principal of Russell High School. JoAnn Browne was BES principal until 2003. Shelley Dougherty took on the dual duties of principal of Simpson Elementary School and principal of Bickerdyke Elementary School during the 2003-2004 school year. Kent Michel took over the duties as principal of both schools during the 2008-2009 school year. The 2014-2015 school year brought Adam Cline, as the new principal to Bickerdyke and Simpson. Jim Moeder took on the dual duties of pincipal of BES and SES beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. Andrew Dempewolf has served as principal of BES since 2018, during his first year he oversaw both elementary schools.
BES began as a neighborhood school which housed two or three sections of Kindergarten through 6th Grade. Special Education services for the Mentally Challenged, the Speech/Language Program, Art and Music have always been part of the new modern grade school. Over the years, Physical Education, other Special Education classes, Library, and Computer Labs were added to the curriculum.
Over the next several years, changes in grades taught at Bickerdyke were frequent. In the fall of 1984, Fifth Grade was moved to Ruppenthal Middle School. Bickerdyke became a K-4 building with two or three sections per grade level. The two Fourth Grades from Simpson were transferred to Bickerdyke for the 1986 – 1987 school year. In 1990, the Fifth Grades returned to Bickerdyke from Ruppenthal Middle School. Bickerdyke's Kindergarten, First and Second Grades moved to Simpson Elementary School; and Simpson's Third Grades moved to Bickerdyke. In 2013 the Second Grades moved back to Bickerdyke. At present, Bickerdyke serves students in Second Grade through Fifth and self-contained Special Education (Levels I and II).