Academic Learning

A Bridge School education is child-centered, and follows student interests. It is also rigorous, and demonstrates a commitment to personal excellence.

At Bridge School, our mixed-age, close-knit, and supportive community provides the foundation for all learning. Students feel like they are part of a large family at Bridge School. We believe that when children feel supported and respected, they are naturally ready and eager to learn.

Students and teachers are engaged and challenged by meaningful, creative, hands-on learning experiences. Students attain academic achievement through collaboration and group project work as well as individual work. Our curriculum is centered around a larger, collective school goal, or theme, that changes each year based on the needs and interests of our community. To learn about this year’s projects, click here.

Bridge School is not limited by curriculum decisions made outside of the school. Bridge School teachers craft curriculum with an awareness of national standards, and current best practices. What makes Bridge School unique, however, is our ability to blend a variety of teaching and learning approaches to meet the needs of our students

How Do We Measure success?

Every teacher at Bridge School knows and teaches every student. Through these authentic connections, teachers have a holistic understanding of each child’s development. Teachers tailor curriculum to meet the needs of each child.

Our assessment practices are aligned with this holistic model of education. Through a variety of research-based, quantitative and qualitative assessment tools, teachers track each child’s readiness and progress along the path towards middle school.

 Our assessment methods, include:

(1)  student self-assessments

(2)  direct teacher observations of students and their work

(3)  descriptive reviews of the child

(4)  reading and math interviews with children

(5)  portfolios and public defense of student work

(6)  school reviews and observations by outside professionals,

(7)  school boards

Source: Deborah Meier Beyond Testing: Seven Assessments of Students and Schools More Effective than Standardized Tests

Depending on the age of the child and the learning target being examined, assessments range from a student’s self-assessment through sharing a speech with the community, to a teacher’s evaluation of a cumulative project, or a traditional test. 

Twice yearly, children and teachers collaborate to create substantial evidence of learning. Students create portfolios of completed work, and teachers work together to write narrative assessments. These narratives highlight evaluations of core curricular activities and skills as well as social and emotional development. These evaluations are customized to each student, and carefully assess core skills with respect to age and grade-level appropriateness.

At Bridge School, students have the opportunity to share their work with the entire Bridge community. Our gallery spaces display student work throughout the year, and we have three Celebrations of Learning (fall, winter, and spring) where families and friends are invited to learn more about projects from students and teachers. These celebrations vary in their form and are designed to complement specific project work. They are a time for students to share their work and receive feedback from the broader community.

But, at the end of the day, a happy, well-adjusted child who is engaged in her relationships and learning is the ultimate test!

Middle School Transition

How do we prepare Bridge students for the transition to Middle School and beyond?

The skills we need to function in our 21st century world differ from those needed 20, 10, and even five years ago. Technology and the availability of information have changed the way we do research, how we think critically, and how quickly we make decisions. Bridge School understands this and prioritizes communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving at all levels through all of our work.

Remarkably, this has been Bridge pedagogy from the beginning.

Feedback from nearly 40 years of Bridge alumni and their parents is incredibly positive and corroborates this. Nearly all Bridge alumni are college graduates, many are still living and working in and engaged with our community.

While we do not include standardized aptitude testing as part of our model, we do teach standard test-taking skills to our older students as this is still a useful skill for navigating middle and high school environments.

The majority of our students transition into the public middle schools in Addison County. Our students assimilate smoothly into public middle schools for several reasons: 1) they know understand themselves so deeply as learners 2) they have the communication skills to advocate for themselves and 3) our rigorous curriculum prepares them academically for Vermont’s middle school curriculum.

To learn more, visit our alumni profile page (click here).