Bridges Area Learning Center

Weekly Reflections - Jan 15, 2016

Dear Team,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It is truly great to have our team back from a fabulous break. As we emerge into the new year and the second half of the school year we certainly have challenges and opportunities before us. Our school is at capacity. This means we have 100 at-risk students converging into our building with the frigid temps keeping all indoors. Add that to the fact that over break our students may have fallen into some bad habits without Bridges being there as a safe, positive place to be where they are seeing a caring team of adults showing them what right looks like.

Our challenge during this time is to maintain our focus on our mission - help at-risk students make successful progress toward acquiring their high school diploma leading to gainful employment or post-secondary education. In addition, our vision - be the premier provider of alternative education in the south metro. This is not easy as we now are in the midst of the school year and frigid arctic temps upon us. Please now that I see your caring, patience, persistence and warmth you offer your students despite, perhaps, them having an off day. These off days are most often a result of the struggles they are going through and the dilemmas and distractions they have outside of school. Please do not take things personally. I know it is difficult not to. I can tell you that I have conversations in my office every day with students who so much appreciate your care, structure and education you provide them. Know that it is appreciated and noticed. Not only are we at capacity but I have a waiting list of around 20 students. This is not occurring by accident. The word is out that this place is a successful school where students can positively progress toward their diploma! And, these things are a result of your daily great work!

And, the district right now is deep in the work of referendum planning for a May vote. As you have likely heard, Bridges is a significant factor in this decision processes to address space options. Again, it comes back to what you are doing every day every period that has set us up for this consideration. Please do not hesitate to provide input at the district website or emailing

I am very happy to have our team back, have the opportunity to work in a great place that is making real and an important difference and see the growth in our students! WELCOME BACK!!

Warm Regards,


Week at a Glance


  • Staff In-service (no classes). Please refer to agenda Mr. Martin published

  • Mr. Brown @ admin meeting (am)

  • Family check in - Ms. Byers

  • DeVante IEP meeting

Teaching Corner: David Lawson, Social Studies

Ten days into the new year— the holidays are behind us, the forecast is calling for below zero temps over the weekend—some cold weather at long last—and ahead lies the balance of January, the winter depths of February, and the long slog through March. The last of second quarter and most of third quarter in Minnesota means a whole lot of inside days bracketed by dark commutes to and from school. Add to this the mercurial moods and ‘tudes of 90 at-risk high school students, and teachers themselves can end up stressed and anxious—even experiencing symptoms similar to their students—what scientists call “vicarious trauma.”

I thought about this today after getting snapped at by student who is normally respectful and polite. (She came to me later in the day with a hand-written note of apology.) We tell ourselves that our students are often dealing with much more than any adolescent should have to bear—and that we are the healthy adults in the room who should understand and know how to deflect—“I’ve got thick skin, “I have heard myself say. But just as teaching offers a million small rewards, it also exacts tiny karmic injuries, and it is probably wise to tend to these sooner than later.

Drawing on what others have written on the subject, I am making a couple of better-late-than-never New Year’s resolutions:

1- I will take care of my own physical health.

2- I will tend to my own emotional well-being.

3- I will try remember that my students and I are all works-in-progress, and not judge them or myself too harshly.

What’s are your coping strategies? Please discuss.


This week was Paraprofessional Appreciation Week! We are very grateful to be working with Mr. Cory Callahan who has done great work here at Bridges ALC

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From the Student Support Team: Ann Collins, LADC

How Do Hallucinogens Affect the Brain and Body?

Classic hallucinogens are thought to produce their perception-altering effects by acting on neural circuits in the brain that use the neurotransmitter serotonin. Specifically, some of their most prominent effects occur in the prefrontal cortex—an area involved in mood, cognition, and perception—as well as other regions important in regulating arousal and physiological responses to stress and panic.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Hallucinogens?

Ingesting hallucinogenic drugs can cause users to see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Their effects typically begin within 20 to 90 minutes of ingestion and can last as long as 12 hours. Experiences are often unpredictable and may vary with the amount ingested and the user’s personality, mood, expectations, and surroundings. The effects of hallucinogens like LSD can be described as drug-induced psychosis—distortion or disorganization of a person’s capacity to recognize reality, think rationally, or communicate with others. Users refer to LSD and other hallucinogenic experiences as “trips” and to acute adverse or unpleasant experiences as “bad trips.” On some trips, users experience sensations that are enjoyable and mentally stimulating and that produce a sense of heightened understanding. Bad trips, however, include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety and despair that include fears of losing control, insanity, or death.

Specific short-term effects of LSD include:

Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature

Dizziness and sleeplessness

Loss of appetite, dry mouth, and sweating

Numbness, weakness, and tremors

Impulsiveness and rapid emotional shifts that can range from fear to euphoria, with transitions so rapid that the user may seem to experience several emotions simultaneously

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens?

LSD users quickly develop a high degree of tolerance to the drug’s effects, such that repeated use requires increasingly larger doses to produce similar effects. Use of hallucinogenic drugs also produces tolerance to other drugs in this class, including psilocybin and peyote. Use of classic hallucinogens does not, however, produce tolerance to drugs that do not act directly on the same brain cell receptors. In other words, there is no cross-tolerance to drugs that act on other neurotransmitter systems, such as marijuana, amphetamines, or PCP, among others. Furthermore, tolerance for hallucinogenic drugs is short-lived—it is lost if the user stops taking the drugs for several days—and physical withdrawal symptoms are not typically experienced when chronic use is stopped.

So grateful to PL Rotary for their donation to our school prior to Winter Break!

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PD Points

Simon Sinek

We crave explanations for most everything, but innovation and progress happen when we allow ourselves to embrace uncertainty.