Bridges Area Learning Center

Quarter 1 Community Newsletter

A Truly Special Year!

Hello Bridges families and friends!

I am starting my 24th year as an educator and it has been the best year of my career. We had the awesome privilege of opening our brand new, beautiful and state of the art area learning center. During our first 10 years and before our new school opened this year our program was housed in several rooms at the Northgate Mall. We made the space work as best as possible despite the area not being made for a school. We spent the last 2+ years planning, designing then building our new school with guiding principles of daylight, collaboration and circulation. The process was simply fantastic. We worked with our construction partners in designing a school that would best support non-traditional learners. I can confidently say we have something very, very special here in Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.

Our school features several different classroom designs with each providing different options for staff and students. All the classrooms are built around a learning commons that staff and students can use to support learning during the day. We also have several small group break out spaces that teachers and students can use as needed.

The next part of the school is our social commons where we hold our online classes during the day as well as serve breakfast and lunch. It is truly beautiful as it open, welcoming and comfortable. It features two beautiful massive, southern facing windows with a stunning patio for students to be able to enjoy the outside. And, the food is GREAT! We so much appreciate the work that our food service staff, led by director of child nutrition Emily Malone, has done in providing such great nutritional options for our students.

Then, we have our student support section. This is what our students, staff and guests first see when they arrive at Bridges with a wonderful reception area. After reception we have our student support offices including guidance, social work, chemical health and therapist. My office serves as a bridge between our learning commons and student support area.

I still am in awe over is how the building feels during the day. The day is so calm, relaxed and peaceful. It has been the easiest start to the school year of my career! In fact, as I am writing this piece I am listening to laughter and joy from our students in our educational commons as they are ending the week of school. With state of the art technology, wonderful design, ease of circulation, ample space (including vertical) PLUS our wonderful team we really have something special to offer our students with so many possibilities and opportunities. We are so appreciative of our community and district that recognized and support our space for non-traditional learners. It will be great!

Warm Regards,

Dave Brown



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Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Mission - to educate all learners to reach their full potential as contributing and productive members of our ever changing global community.

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Bridges GRAND OPENING Celebration

Monday, Oct. 21st, 3:30-4:30pm

15870 Fish Point Road

Prior Lake, MN

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Bridges ALC Ground Breaking in September of 2018 as Dr. Staloch, PLSAS Superintendent, welcomed many stakeholders who came to the ceremony !

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The exterior of the school went up last Winter

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Bridges in development this summer

And, just before the first day of school

Our beautiful new school now operational

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Many graduates have stopped by to check in and see the new school!

Teacher Corner: David Lawson, Social Studies and Independent Studies Coordinator

Moving into our new Bridges in late August held all the excitement of moving into a new house after years of getting by in a cramped apartment. Where once we lacked core learning spaces, common areas, and even bathrooms, we now have open, naturally-lit, calm-inspiring spaces.

Students and staff alike move about our new environs with a sense of lightness and purpose. Where once students ate lunch in classrooms or sitting on the floor, a bright and spacious social common now invites students to partake of improved nutrition and each other’s company in a dedicated space.

This week, Mr. Martin’s Math Projects class put finishing touches on student-built cedar planter boxes. Flowers, herbs, and vegetables will soon soak up the sun on the south-facing patio—a perfect metaphor for the growth potential now made manifest in a physical environment designed around learning, interaction, and engagement.

Finally, as with any new house, it will take some time to learn how best to make use of our new space, to leverage the technology and inherent flexibility, to personalize and differentiate for our varied learners, and to work and grow as a family blessed with a new home.

David Lawson

A special thank you to Heather Fitzloff, PLHS assistant principal, who served as interim coordinator while I was deployed last year in the Middle East with the MN National Guard 34th 'Red Bull' Infantry Division

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Celebrating with some of our graduates during commencement at beautiful Dan Patch Field last Spring!

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PL Rotary to sponser STRIVE @ Bridges ALC for 10th consecutive year!

STRIVE (an acronym for “Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education”) is a Prior Lake Rotary program that helps Bridges students set and attain goals with the ultimate goal being earning a Prior Lake High School diploma! The program pairs students with an adult Rotarian or person in our community allowing mentorship to occur.

We have been doing STRIVE for over 10 years and with our new space we can accommodate more students! Prior Lake Rotary sponsors the STRIVE program with Bridges and provides catered lunch from The Pointe in Prior Lake and a mentor to call their own. For successful participation in the program (missing two or less meetings and consistent participation) students are awarded an attendance scholarship, and a $500.00 - $750.00 scholarship to a post-secondary school of their choice. If a student is going into the military, a $500.00-$750.00 check is given to them upon graduation.

The days we meet with our students, the entire school is buzzing with activity. The mentors are chatting, the students are full of energy, and food (frequently pizza) is creating a delectable aroma that fills us with anticipation. As we get into our positions to converse, it sometimes is so loud it’s difficult to hear one another. As we begin our program this year in our new space, we not only have more of it, but we also have places where more private conversations can happen. This program is very successful, many students graduate, and several of them earn scholarships. As we look to the future, I see the program growing and expanding with more interest and participation. We are looking forward to the new scholastic year!

Dr. Cindy Shepard


PL Rotarian

Conferences - Q1

Thursday, Oct. 10th, 5-8pm

Bridges Area Learning Center, 15780 Fish Point Road, Prior Lake, MN, USA

Student Reflection - Caryn

I'm Caryn Rose and I've only been at Bridges for a couple of weeks now, but it has helped me so much. I feel great about my grades, and I actually see my friends. I used to loathe going to school but don't any longer. Outside of school is easier too. I get to be with my friends at Prior Lake High School and have more overall freedom after school because of how successful I am here. Overall being at Bridges is a positive impact on my mental health and making my high school experience a lot better. I really appreciate Bridges!

Congrats to Ms. Jenkins, Bridges 2018-19 Teacher of the Year and Ms. Nelson, Educator of Excellence nominee!

Bridges In The News

Bridges Staff and Contact Information

Teaching Staff

Andrew Martin - Teacher (Math, FABLAB, Projects)

Independent Study is an opportunity for students to take additional classes if needed. Students are assigned plato classes (online) and can work on them at school during the designated time and/or outside of school. A minimum 10 hours is needed to completed at Bridges ALC.

Independent Study is held Monday & Wednesday from 3:30pm to 6:00pm

David Lawson - Teacher (Social Studies & Independent Studies Coordinator)

Candi Jenkins - Teacher (SPED, Work Program and Music Projects)

Alexius Serefeas - Teacher (Language Arts, Science)

Student Support Staff

Jennifer Powers - Bridges Secretary

Please contact Jenniferfor attendance, general information and access to student grades/attendance through Infinite Campus (PLSAS student information system).

Ann Collins - (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor)

Kassandra Kadel- Paraprofessional

Erik Elsberry - Therapist

Erik comes in every Friday from the Scott County Mental Health Center to provide individual and family counseling to Bridges students and families.

From the Student Support Team: Ann Collins, Student Support/Chemical Health

Hello Bridges Community!

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year! My name is Ann Collins, this will be my 11th year as Student Support/Chemical Health Counselor at Bridges ALC! What a wonderful start we have had this year! A beautiful new building and many new students! We are so fortunate to have this incredible learning space. Both students and staff are loving the bright, open feel of the building. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I look forward to working with your students and getting to know their families as well. We are all going to have a great year here at Bridges ALC!

Ann Collins

Student Support/Chemical Health

Bridges ALC Independent Study

Here at Bridges we offer a flexible online based program to support students in need of credit recovery. After a student determines the credit need (usually through the student's guidance counselor), simply register online, complete needed forms, bring them in to Bridges ALC and meet with the independent study teacher, Mr. Lawson, and they are ready to go within minutes. Each student is enrolled in a class through a web browser based program called PLATO. The program runs October 1st through May 19th, 2020.

Each class a student signs up for requires a total of 10 hours of seat time here at Bridges, and this can be done after school on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Once the attendance piece is completed the student will finish the course(s) on their own time. I’ve had many students get caught up, back on track, or even finish up for their diploma through Independent Study. It’s a great program and it provides a great service to our students.

More information and online registration can be found on our webpage:

If you have questions please feel free to reach out to our Independent Study Coordinator:

David Lawson:

JUMP DAYS the Only Difference in Bridges Calendar to PLHS

Our school calendar is the same as Prior Lake High School (days off, start/end of quarters, etc) with the exception of JUMP DAYS. These days are designed for students to jump ahead with their grades, academic skills and attendance. During JUMP DAYS we pause regularly scheduled classes and switch to a block schedule (four periods instead of seven). Students are scheduled in periods for interventions and enrichment based on their progress during the quarter.


  • September 27
  • October 11

Quarter 1 Significant dates


27 - First Day of School




1 - Independent Study Open

1 - Picture Day

10 - Conferences (5-8pm)

10 - STRIVE mentorship program begins


16-18 - Fall Break (Ed MN Convention)

21 - No Classes (Staff In-Service Day)

21 - GRAND OPENING Celebration from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

24 - STRIVE mentor/mentee program


30 - End of Quarter Day

31 - End of Quarter Day

31 - Early Release


1 - Staff Work Day - No Classes

4 - Q2 First Day

A sample of the spectacular art @ Bridges

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Teacher Appreciation @ Bridges ALC !!

Last year I was on military leave as I served in the Middle East. I was so appreciative of the support of my colleagues, our district and community!

At Bridges we work to support our students to positively progress towards earning their Prior Lake High School Diploma leading to gainful employment or post-secondary education

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