Bridges Area Learning Center

Weekly Reflections

Dear Team,

At-risk students often are dealing with a myriad of significant issues simultaneously. Commonly, they often feel that they do not belong, are marginalized or they get lost in a larger high school environment which is one of the most significant factors in their motivation to attend Bridges. They also commonly are dealing with one or more traumas or crisis in addition to these feelings (which also can drive and/or increase these feelings). Common examples of these crisis may include chemical addiction, living displacement/homelessness/transient, poverty, hunger, mental health issues (anxiety, depression), improper hygiene, abuse/neglect and/or pregnancy or parenting.

Additionally, due to these issues that may have been a part of the educational journey it is not uncommon that their academic levels are underdeveloped. As we have assessed our students we see that we have a high percentage of readers that that are not at grade level (some are at 3rd grade levels). Same for math. As a result, it is not uncommon for students to act in ways to mask these issues - often as a result of feeling embarrassed.

Unfortunately, school is not something they have had a positive connection to or feelings associated with it.

Bridges is dedicated to changing those mentalities. At Bridges our teachers and support staff do great work in taking students where they are at socially, emotionally and academically and walking with them towards growth and improvement to ultimately be able to get their diploma in order for better opportunities to be gainfully employed, join the uniformed armed services and/or continue on with post-secondary education. This is, quite literally, one of the most significant reasons for our continued success over the past 7 years - our teachers and support staff understanding the nature of an at-risk students, being able to look past behaviors that are a manifestation of their difficulties and connect with them in warm, positive and meaningful ways.

When you walk around the school it is not easy to tell that there is likely so much going on in our students' lives. Needless to say, the kind, positive and genuine caring approach of our staff has made the difference in establishing Bridges as a successful place for at-risk students. Their increased comfort usually translates into increase success at school. While we know the importance of academics, at Bridges it is as important to promote social and emotional learning that has factored so positively in our success and growth. I am excited to continue this good work in wrapping up our 7th year!

Warm Regards,


Week at A Glance

Tuesday –

  • Mr. Brown @ DSC (am)
  • De’Angelo IEP Meeting – 3pm

Wed –

  • Work Day
  • Mr. Brown @ meeting (am)
  • Ms. Olson @ DSC (am)
  • Taylor IEP meeting @ 10am
  • Student Intake @ 1pm

Thurs -

  • Work Day & Early Release
  • Staff Meeting @ 730am
  • PD (pm)
  • Demi IEP Meeting @ 10am

Friday -

  • No Student Day/Work Day
  • Staff Breakfast Served @ 7am

Teacher Corner: Mr Martin - Math/FABLAB/Projects

Attending my first workshop with Scott Mcloed was wonderful. He showed us a world where every student spends their day creating meaningful projects, and enjoying school. This is the kind of classroom I want to have. A classroom where projects are scattered around the room. It’s busy, but in a good way.

I’ve been teaching a FabLab class the past few years, and the students love it. It’s great when they can make things, and be creative with it. I’ll be expanding on this and what Scott has taught us by teaching a math projects class fourth quarter. I’ve been carefully selecting fun math related projects for my students to work on. For example, we’ll be using a math formula to calculate the required length of PVC pipe based on its diameter to produce a specific frequency when stuck.

Our goal will be to create the entire music scale with PVC pipes and make our own instrument. We’ll also be playing a stock market game throughout the quarter and looking at the math behind that, and using geometry to create a few construction projects, including bridge building and making a picnic table. I’m getting more excited as the quarter draws near and I’m eager to show my students how we can apply math to the real world.

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On May 24, 2016, Prior Lake-Savage Area School district residents will be asked to vote on a funding proposal that would respond to increasing student enrollment by providing the following:

Space for students

Additions and/or renovations at every building in the district, including classrooms, cafeterias and gyms; a new elementary school; a new Bridges Area Learning Center; and space for our innovative learning programs.

Technology for teaching

Support to maintain our position as a leader in Minnesota for innovative technology use in the classroom, including student and staff devices; software programs that support students, teachers and families; technology infrastructure; and technology support staff.

Security for schools

A new, secure entrance at Prior Lake High School, a visitor screening system at every school; and additional security cameras for all schools.

If approved, the tax impact on the average homeowner ($300,000 value home) would be less than $31 per month.

Learn More

Attend an Information Session:

• Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m.

District Services Center

• Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m.

Prior Lake High School

From the Student Support Team: Ann Collins, LADC

Drug use and mental illness are often referred to as the chicken and the egg. Which came first? It can be very hard to tell. Does drug use cause mental illness? Does mental illness cause drug use? Drug use typically starts in adolescence which is also the time that signs of mental illness commonly occur. Even though both drug use and mental illness are present together at very high rates it doesn’t mean that one necessarily caused the other. Although, A few drugs can cause mental illness after years of chronic abuse. Drugs such as ecstasy alter chemicals in the brain that control mood and other behaviors. These changes can lead to depression or anxiety problems. While drug use is not going to guarantee the development of a mental illness, there are circumstances that need to be considered.

1. Drugs can cause abusers to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. An increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has found.

2. Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse as a way of self-medicating the symptoms.

3. Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma.

There are areas of the brain that are affected by both drug use and mental illnesses. The neurotransmitter dopamine is one that is affected by drug use and involved in depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders. Both drug use and mental illness create changes in our brains. Changes from one may affect the other. So, the brain changes coming from drug use may produce a change in brain function that sparks mental illness in someone who is predisposed to that mental illness causing a sooner onset. Or, if the mental illness develops first the changes in the brain caused from that can create changes that enhancing the positive effect of the drug while reducing the awareness of the drugs negative effects.

People who are mentally ill are more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. The two go hand in hand like evil twins. Many people will use drugs as a way to escape the symptoms of the mental illness. Depression, anxiety, paranoia and restlessness may be lessened when the person is high but these symptoms return, often stronger, when the person is not high. The drug used to lessen the symptoms ends up making them worse.

January Student of the Month - DAWSON!

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February Student of the Month - TYLER!

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March Students of the Month - QUINTIN & ASHLEY

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PD Points

Simon Sinek

The goal is not to be perfect by the end, the goal is to be better today.

Great Job Everyone!!

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