Bridges Area Learning Center

Weekly Reflections

Dear Team,

The first quarter is behind us and with that comes a great time to highlight many of the tremendous events and programs that happened to start our year. At the risk of leaving something out here it goes!

  • For the second year in a row we opened at capacity as well as added staff to continue to meet the need to work individually with our students.
  • We are now in work for our second expansion in 7 years. The new area will feature a larger online learning space AND a dedicated room for special education services/small groups. This will allow room 4 to be a dedicated classroom as well as the hallway of computers to go away.
  • The School Board is now planning for a Spring referendum in which Bridges will be a consideration for its future.
  • Candi Jenkins and Kevin Wagner have teamed to provide small group support that has resulted in great success for those participating.
  • Andy Martin has been a district participant in the professional development process bringing our voice to that group as well as PD opportunities to us. He also will be starting his FABLAB class for a second year. Andy also spent time this summer developing a project based math class to be offered this Spring.
  • Chris Nelson is a part of the district's innovation academy where the work is to bring 21st century teaching and learning to our school and district. And, you can see evidence of her leadership in this area with her student's work prominently displayed around the school!
  • David Lawson represented Bridges in the recent DMC process providing a voice from our perspective. David also spent time this summer developing and enhancing his curriculum.
  • Melissa Olson and Candi Jenkins teamed to improve our reading class in order to address gaps in reading levels as well as support our learning team, site and PD goals. Both spent time this summer preparing this class.
  • Alexius Serefeas went from .5 to 1.0 to help address growth thereby standing up a biology class mid quarter as well as teamed with me to teach chemistry.
  • Denise Schmidt continued to facilitate all of the processes in order to support day to day operations, teaching and learning.
  • Ann Collins and Kevin Wagner provide individual and group support as well as education to our staff to better understand the needs and nature of at-risk students.
  • Erik Elsberry stepped into a our school new this year and is already near capacity of for clients.
  • Kris Palma worked to keep our building in GREAT shape!

As I am writing this I wanted to highlight the many great things that are happening in your classrooms and working areas as I see how you all work to connect with our at-risk students and provide quality instruction, but a fear I would run out of space!! Needless to say, we had a great opening to the year. Quarter one is now in the books. Im looking forward to reporting the great things you all will do quarter two!! Thank you for your collective and individual efforts!

Highest Regards,


Week at a Glance (this week and next due to Thanksgiving).

  • Q2 Start
  • No BSAT due to first day of quarter
  • Staff Meeting after school (make up for my absence Friday)
  • Mr. Brown @ Board Data Retreat (evening)
  • Mr. Brown @ DSC in am (admin meeting)
  • Youth Appreciation Luncheon - Kai Vaughn, Bridges selection. Ms. Nelson & Mr. Brown @ Fongs 11:30am to 1pm.
  • BSAT (7:30am)
  • Last day of classes for the week
  • No School
  • No School
  • No School

Teacher Corner: Chris Nelson: Art/Phy Ed

The quarter is over and I am finally wrapping up all of my first quarter classes. The year began with an adjustment period for us all. Many of our former students graduated last spring, and as a result, we were able to allow an influx of brand new students at Bridges.

It was exciting to have so many new faces walk into my classroom door. It has been a great experience helping them get acquainted with the room, and having them find it to be a comfortable space where they want to spend time. This quarter I tested my newly developed “self-paced” curriculum. I felt that due to the varied attendance of our students it would make for a worthwhile trial. To my amazement the number of students who passed my classes and earned their art credit increased by a substantial amount! Needless to say, it turned out to be a very positive addition to the art program.

Next, I plan to finalize preparations for second quarter. I will be teaching Sculpting, Introduction to Art and a new course called Art Expressions. I feel fortunate to be able to teach art here at Bridges and I am overjoyed at the enthusiasm that many of our kids have shown over being scheduled into those classes. I will continue the self-paced curriculum, and I hope to see even more success by the end of next quarter.

It did not take long for our new students to settle in and make Bridges their academic home. I look forward to watching them learn and grow as they continue on with their high school career. It’s fun to think that hopefully, one day in the not too distant future, our new students will be the ones graduating and leaving us to make room for another new group to enter.

Great result for our monthly incentive pizza party! Thanks Mr. Wagner and Mr. Martin for facilitating!

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From the student support team: Ann Collins, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor

What are stimulants?

Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD and narcolepsy.

How do stimulants affect the brain and body?

Stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), act in the brain similarly to a family of key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain. The associated increase in dopamine can induce a feeling of euphoria when stimulants are taken nonmedically. Stimulants also increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and open up breathing passages.

Is there risk of abuse?

Prescription stimulants are sometimes abused—that is, taken in higher quantities or in a different manner than prescribed, or taken by those without a prescription. Because they suppress appetite, increase wakefulness, and increase focus and attention, they are frequently abused for purposes of weight loss or performance enhancement (e.g., to help study or boost grades in school). Because they may produce euphoria, these drugs are also frequently abused for recreational purposes (i.e., to get high). Euphoria from stimulants is generally produced when pills are crushed and then snorted or mixed with water and injected.

Are stimulants addicting?

Addiction to stimulants is a very real consideration for anyone taking them without medical supervision. Addiction most likely occurs because stimulants, when taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed by a doctor, can induce a rapid rise in dopamine in the brain. Furthermore, if stimulants are abused chronically, withdrawal symptoms—including fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns—can result when a person stops taking them.

PD Points

Simon Sinek

Stand for people. Not a product or a service or metric or number. Stand for real, living, breathing people and we will change the world.
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Educational Leadership (this month's issue available in my office):

Great Work This Week!

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