A letter from Jen, Director of Bridge School

Dear Bridge families,

I’m sitting at my desk, in an all too quiet building, reflecting on this past year and planning diligently for the fall.  I’m met with sadness and joy, grief and hope, and pride and gratitude.  This year was remarkable in so many ways.  We know that crisis brings communities together and I have never felt more grateful for the love, support, and understanding of our Bridge Community.  You opened your homes and your hearts to us as we transitioned to remote learning and we are so incredibly impressed with the resiliency of our kiddos, the support from families regarding learning from home, and the ability to share meaningfully and to continue connecting with each other when we have to be physically distanced.  We can’t thank you enough.

Our teachers have been meeting this week to wrap up the year, discuss successes and challenges, and to begin planning for next year.  We have been inspired by our continued connection this Spring and have used it to drive our discussion for our theme for next year.  In this time of unrest within our own community and across the country and world, we have decided that our theme for next year would be Community and Connections. We seek to use this challenging time to dive deeply into the constructs of communities, how they are connected, how they change over time and our own roles within them.  Stay tuned for more to come!

We will keep families updated as necessary throughout the summer as we continue to plan based on guidelines from the Agency of Education and the VT Health Department.  Updates to our Policies, Procedures and the Student and Family Handbook will be made in August and will be sent to families. They will reflect any changes needed to ensure maximum safety of our students, faculty, families and greater community. We are optimistic that with limiting our enrollment capacity and utilizing our outdoor spaces and vast indoor spaces, we will be able to provide a safe learning space for our kiddos at Bridge.

This summer, I hope you find time for rest, joy, creativity, adventure, and peace.  May you all stay healthy, safe, and well.

As always, please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.

With warmth, love, and gratitude,


Distance Learning

March 26, 2020

As we navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic in Vermont together as a community, Bridge School’s commitment to our students and families is stronger than ever.  This whirlwind of changes has proven to us what we have known all along. Our students are resilient, curious, and caring. Our teachers are dedicated, creative, and compassionate.  We have jumped right into a distance learning model using a mixture of packets and manipulatives, Google Classroom, Google Meet, YouTube and other virtual resources. Students have been checking in with teachers daily and we meet regularly as a school on Google Meet. We continue to connect, play games, share our learning goals and have even been having Spirit Days! Our students are also baking more, spending more time outside (safely), puzzling, connecting with family, resting, and helping their community.  Even our parents are expressing themselves creatively! Over the next few weeks we will continue to highlight the wonderful work of our families and teachers at home. Stay tuned. Be safe, and be well.

Bridge School’s new coworkers and classmates!

Announcing New Scholarship Program for New K-6 Students!

We are overjoyed to announce that we are able to offer a new scholarship program for new K-6 students for the 2019-2020 school year!

Curious to learn more about our award-winning school? Visit our Mission & Objectives and Philosophy pages to learn more. Contact Co-Director, Amanda (amanda@bridgeschoolvermont.org) for more information about admissions, and visit our Admissions page.

Bridge School is different than traditional schools.

Current brain research shows us that there is no such thing as an average mind. So why do traditional schools teach common curriculum, designed for an average? At Bridge School, we teach your child as a unique learner. We combine innovative pedagogy with a deep understanding of child development to guide each individual child’s learning. Children come to understand themselves, and their identity within a supportive community.

Announcing: Ecology & Outdoor Leadership Program

Announcing Bridge School’s Newest Innovation in Addison County Elementary Education:

Ecology & Outdoor Leadership Program

For decades, Bridge School has valued the educational power of the natural world. As we approach our 40th anniversary as a school, we are formalizing this commitment to outdoor education by launching our new Ecology & Outdoor Leadership Program in September 2019. 

The Why: Inspired by the philosophy pioneered by forest schools, our inquiry-based learning for the year will explore topics related to sustainability, ecology, natural history, and outdoor skills. Child development research is conclusive on the topic of outdoor education: spending time outdoors leads to better outcomes both in and out of the classroom. Outdoor exploration provides vital opportunities for sensory development, reduces anxiety, improves focus, and leads to improvements in a variety of other indicators of health and wellbeing. Furthermore, we believe in empowering this generation as changemakers who are knowledgeable and skilled in sustainability topics.

The Where: Every week, rain or shine, we will start our week at school together with a half-day outdoor field trip. We will use Middlebury’s Wright Park as a home base, and partner with the Middlebury Area Land Trust. All of our regular classes–Math, Language Arts, and Explorations– will occur in the field, using the resources available as our base for discovery and inquiry.

The What: We will use our time in the field to focus on learning the natural history of Addison County, studying ecological concepts, and practicing outdoor survival skills. Back at school, we will expand on what we have learned, and think about the natural world from the perspective of sustainability as a school, and as individuals.

During our Mondays at Wright Park, and our inquiries during the rest of the week at school, the following broad, essential questions will guide us:  1) Where am I? 2) How did we get here? 3) Where are we going? 

We will also ask:

  • How do my choices have an impact on my community?
  • Who and what do we share the community with?
  • What can I do to make a positive impact on my community?
  • What does it mean to be an outdoor leader? What does it mean to be an ecological leader?
  • What does it mean to be a sustainability advocate? 

Furthermore, the following goals will be the compass by which we, as teachers, plan our explorations for the year.

We strive for our students to:

  • feel confidence in the outdoors, knowing how to stay safe and comfortable.
  • be knowledgeable about the natural history of Vermont, and ecological processes and systems.
  • be advocates for sustainability in their personal lives, their lives at home, and their lives at school.

An Award Winning Year–Bridge Wins 3 Prestigious Awards

We are thrilled to share the numerous awards Bridge School received this year!

1. Innovative Schools Award

In late March, students traveled to Montpelier to receive an “Innovative Schools Award” from the National School Choice Week organization. Bridge School was recognized from the State House floor, and students got to connect with other independent school students from across Vermont.

2. Letters About Literature 

Out of over 120 entries, Bridge students won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the Letters About Literature Contest! This contest is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Vermont State Library, and asks students to write a letter to an author whose work impacted their understanding of themselves or the world. The students in Amanda Warren’s Language Arts class all wrote letters and submitted them to the contest as part of this year’s curriculum. It was unbelievable that Bridge School swept the contest!

The winners traveled to the State House to receive their awards, and the 1st place winner read her letter out loud! The 1st place winner’s entry was also promoted to the national contest. Above, the winners are pictured with the Vermont State Librarian, Jason Broughton.

3. Junior Duck Stamp Contest

Bridge students took 1st and 2nd place in the Junior Duck Stamp Contest sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife! The 1st place artwork spent a month being displayed at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. These drawings were done during “Winter Week” in February–a fun week where Bridge offers a variety of unique electives.

What Exactly is Chunka Chunka?

No doubt, the question we get asked most about our daily schedule is: What is Chunka Chunka? My answer is: Chunka Chunka is perhaps the most important part of the school day at Bridge School. Yes, you heard me! The MOST important time of day.

Practically, speaking, Chunka Chunka is the 15-20 minutes in between when Morning Meeting ends, and Language Arts class begins. Each day, the three Home Center teachers choose three options, and students sign up for one of the three. Options frequently include: drawing, puzzles, basketball, knitting, board games, quiet reading, or outside time.

This time of day may seem simple, and insignificant. You might even ask: are we wasting precious time at school by having students not jump right into classes?


We believe Chunka Chunka is in itself precious, and perhaps even sacred. First thing, every morning, students get to ask themselves: How do I want to start my day at school? Students start their day with making a choice. They feel agency and empowerment by getting to ease into the morning on their own terms.

Positive psychology and mindfulness research teaches us that when we start our day by getting into alignment with ourselves, and choosing fun and joy, that attitude sets the tone for our entire day.

When our students start their day with agency and choice, they choose to start their day with a feeling of joy. This feeling sets us up for days full of students making meaningful choices in their learning, and being primed for fun along the way.

Want to learn more about starting your morning off with joy? Click here




“We’re Different, We’re the Same, We’re All Beautiful”

We are over the moon for our new mural, painted generously by Chris Murray, parent of Jackson ’19 and Andrea, our current board chair!

Chris explains the mural:

“Growing up I had the privilege of living all over the world, in many different environments, with many different types of people; and I have learned that both inside and out our basic human needs and interests are common. Regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, and environment, we all need food and water; we all need to be useful and productive, and we all need to be loved. It is the beauty of our shared purpose that I tried to convey with this art. The idea for the image was originally conceived for an article I illustrated several years ago (for Harvard Business Review) on the importance of diversity in the work place.

Today it seems we need to be reminded of the things that unite us. We need to celebrate our differences. Hopefully the message is a teaching opportunity for the Bridge community and everyone else who ventures by.”

Bridge Receives Grant to Start Composting Program!

We are thrilled to share that Bridge School received a grant from the Addison County Solid Waste Management District to start a composting program! Sarah Lundquist (pictured below), Solid Waste Program Assistant, was a guest teacher in Explorations this fall. Sarah taught a full week unit about waste awareness and management.  After this inspiring class, Bridge teachers and kids decided that Bridge should be more intentional about our waste management program.

The grant will fund the building of a three-bin composting system, as well as a waste sorting system for the lunchroom. Students will help with the management of the compost, and it will also be used in classes as a catalyst for discussion and learning opportunities surrounding waste management, compost and soil cycles.

Thanks to Jen and Dave for your leadership in writing the grant and getting this program going!

A Peak Inside the Classroom: Wednesday Walks

Every Wednesday, Diane’s Language Arts class starts the day with a “Wednesday Walk”—a place-based, nature-based writing activity. This Wednesday, the walk was focused on using simile and metaphor based on the poem “The Night is a Big Black Cat” by G. Orr Clark.

The Night is a big black cat

The moon is her topaz eye,

The stars are the mice she hunts at night,

In the field of the sultry sky.

This class started with a group reading of the poem. Several students were eager to try to read it aloud in front of the class, and students patiently gave each other a turn. Along the way, Diane and the students stopped for lively discourse: What is topaz and has anyone ever seen it before? How could a sky be like a field? What clues can we use in the poem to help us guess the meaning of “sultry”? Is it related to the word “salt”? Should we use the dictionary to help us learn more?

Next, Diane explained that they would be practicing writing in the style of the poem and shared an example based on the melting snow banks outside the classroom. As Diane read, students noticed that it was fun to think of the child leading the parent!

Equipped with pencils and clipboards, students went out into the sunny morning and found something in the natural world to write about.

Many students chose to examine the melting ice rink—one student wrote that it reminded him of a frozen ocean with icebergs, while another said it reminded her of sleeping creatures:

Once each student had finished writing, the group went back inside to listen to each other’s discoveries.

This weekly ritual is elegant in its power and significance. Literacy development and community building are layered on top of student agency and creativity. This lesson is a perfect example of a Bridge School class—one where students work together, make independent choices, and stretch their creativity while learning concrete skills.

Spotlight on Traditions: Winter Week

Winter Week is: a week of unabashed fun; a phenomenal example of the talent in our community; an example of Bridge School’s focus on non-traditional learning…want to know more?

Students inside the “Quinzee” snow shelter they built.

Each year, we throw out our normal academic schedule for the week before February vacation and fill our days with electives. Taught both by Bridge School teachers, and guest teachers, there is never a dull moment during Winter Week. Instead of regular Language Arts, Math and Explorations classes, students get to choose three electives from a list of up to 12 different classes!

This year for Winter Week, students chose from:

  • Theater Games
  • Soup Cooking
  • Abstract Expressionism
  • Dutch
  • Duck Drawing (for the Junior Audubon Stamp Contest)
  • Hand Bells
  • Sewing
  • Bridge School Newspaper
  • Winter Survival
  • Health and Mindfulness

To add to the already goofy and spunky days, each day during Winter Week has a different Spirit Week theme: from pajama day, to beach day, to fancy clothing day!

Winter Week culminates with a community service fieldtrip. We spend each morning during Winter Week practicing a lineup of songs, and take our performance on the road to sing for Project Independence, an elder services day program just down the street from school.

At its core, Winter Week is about community. We tap into our network of parent and volunteer teachers to share their talents; we come together to learn new things, and we spread the fun to the community outside of school. We are already looking forward to next year!