Bridges Area Learning Center

Weekly Reflections

Dear Team,

Im almost 100% positive that December will blink by! The holiday season brings a lot of energy, positives, traditions and good memories. Unfortunately, for at-risk students, this is not necessarily the case. Often, our students can have increased levels of trepidation, anxiety and negative feelings depending on their circumstances. These can translate into increased difficulty at school during this time. As a result, it is incumbent upon us as a program to understand there may be increased needs over the next couple of weeks. Increased flexibility, accommodations, understanding and communication with our student support team will likely need to occur with this time of the school year. With that in mind we have a busy couple of weeks prior to the Winter break that will sure make the time go fast. The activities we will be doing as a school will be among the positive memories for our students (and maybe even some of the only ones). And, what you all do in your classrooms and work areas will provide consistency, caring and the stability that will help our students progress towards their diploma. This time is a great time of year. Thank you for what you provide to our students and school to help them and us have a great end to the calendar year!

Warm Regards,

David Brown

Week at a Glance

  • Staff Meeting (7:30am)
  • BSAT (am)
  • New paraprofessional, Cory Callahan, intro to the school
  • Mr. Brown @ DSC (am - admin meeting)
  • New School Liaison Officer, Matt Nardo, intro to the school
  • Staff Meeting (3pm)
  • Ms. Nelson & Mr. Brown @ DSC - Innovation Academy with Dr. Scott McLeod
  • Conferences 5pm to 8pm (staff 4pm to 8pm)
  • Bridges Holiday Gathering @ McHughes

Teacher Corner: Melissa Olson - Language Arts

Why I Do What I Do

In August, I sat around a bonfire with eight women. They had intimate familiarity with each other, but none of them knew me. This isn't terribly unusual for me, I am often the stand in when friends don't want to attend a function alone. Because of this, come the ritualistic introductions that inevitably lead to inquiries about individual occupations. So I am prepared, right? As I have rehearsed this response in varying scripts repeatedly over the years. We all have.

And it starts, "I am a teacher. I work with at-risk youth, you know, the dreamers and the potheads, the gamers and the criminals, the artists and the introverts."

And it leads to responses such as, "I could NEVER do that." Followed by, "You must be very patient."

And that makes me think. Why do I do what I do? I mean, we fortunate few who have life options that unfurl wildly before us, sending us to scatter and fasten just one in hopes to catch the wind, are inherently drawn to benevolence. At our core, we want to help. We are gracious. We want to make a difference. And that is no cliche. It is an active choice. One we make every morning, by simply showing up, smiling, and sharing knowledge. And it makes a difference. And that is pretty freaking cool.

So why I do what I do is because I work with dynamic, like-minded people who inspire me. And I get to hang out with kids and talk about books all day. And in doing so, I bring safety and care, humor and compassion, and hopefully something applicable that will inspire them to work to become who they are truly meant by their own definition to be, regardless of circumstance.

It's not an easy job. And there is no need to tread lightly regarding the difficulties endured while battling the multifaceted fatigue that "teaching" can bring. We have all felt it. It's NOT an easy job. But we do it. Because we want to help, we are gracious, and we want to make a difference. And honestly, I really think we do.

So when the sky goes dark, and the depth of winter descends upon you, think about why you do what you do. Share it with someone. When you hear yourself say it, it becomes a part of you again. Let it remind you that what you do has purpose. And that, is pretty freaking cool.

From the Student Support Team: Kevin Wagner - Social Worker

My second year as a social worker here at Bridges has been fantastic so far, and I am excited about some of the new supports and programs that we have all put in place for our students!

One of these supports is a weekly anxiety group. We have a large number of students presenting with severe anxiety this year. Some of our students have significant enough anxiety that it has been a barrier to their success in previous schools. Candice Jenkins and I have been working closely with the identified students and have created a safe, calm, and educational environment for them. This is a place where students suffering from anxiety can meet other students with similar circumstances, share experiences, make new friendships, and learn about effective coping strategies so they can live independent and fulfilling lives.

This is my fifteenth year as a school social worker. It seems like every year there are more and more students who report suffering from anxiety and/or depression. I only expect our anxiety support program to grow in the months and years ahead. I am thrilled to work at a school that is so forward-thinking and supportive of this population!

From the Peer Coaches - Mary Kay Lien and Kirby Meiners

Why the Growth Mindset?

When students and educators have a growth mindset, they understand that intelligence can be developed. Students focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They work hard to learn more and get smarter. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck, Lisa Blackwell Ph.D., and their colleagues, we know that students who learn this mindset show greater motivation in school, better grades, and higher test scores.

What does a Growth Mindset School Look Like?

Administrators support teachers’ learning. They are responsive to honest feedback, rather than defensive. They seek to build their skills, and are willing to learn from their teachers.

Teachers collaborate with their colleagues and instructional leaders, rather than shut their classroom doors and fly solo. They strive to strengthen their own practice, rather than blame others. They truly believe that all students can learn and succeed—and show it.

Students are enthusiastic, hard-working, persistent learners. They take charge over their own success.

Adapted from The Science: The Growth Mindset. Mindworks, Inc. retrieved November 17, 2015,

Commentary by Carol Dweck titled Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

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PD Points

Simon Sinek

It's the magical partnership of the person with their head in the clouds and the person with their feet on the ground that creates progress.

Great Job Everyone!

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