Spotlight on Traditions: Skiing at Rikert!

Each year, the Fall term ends with a flurry of energy poured into The Big Show. Both students and teachers give all their energy into each year’s masterpiece. Thus, arriving back from winter break can feel a little melancholy. The oldest students begin working on the script in early September, and we can all feel a little lost without the focus of the show.

Thankfully, the winter months at Bridge School are full of outdoor activity and traditions to fight the January blues. One of these traditions is weekly field trips to Rikert Nordic Center to go skiing and snowshoeing! All students and teachers suit up in warm gear and make the most of Vermont’s winters. We are lucky to not only have the privilege of skiing, but also the guidance of Rikert’s expert ski instructors. Many students go Nordic skiing for the very first time on these field trips!

These field trips are both pure fun, as well as a rich opportunity for learning outside of the classroom. Students practice working through feelings of frustration and excitement as they try something new—skills that are essential and transferable to the feelings of learning a new concept in math class, or practicing new vocabulary words in Spanish class. Furthermore, we come together as a community and practice kindness as we encourage each other, cheer on each other’s successes, and provide a helping hand when someone inevitably loses their balance. By the time skiing is over, and before we can get too blue, we’re already looking forward to Winter Week, another Bridge School tradition!

Announcing Summer Camp 2018!

We are thrilled to announce Bridge School Summer Camp 2018!

At Bridge School Summer Camp, you can expect the same devotion to creativity, student choice and community that Bridge School is known for during the school year!

Bridge School Summer Camp is open to all — both Bridge School students and non Bridge students.

Click here for more information about camp!

Bridge Welcomes New Teachers!

We are overjoyed to welcome three new teachers to the Bridge School community! The year ahead looks incredibly bright with these new faces in the barn.

Nikki Juvan–Younger Home Center Teacher

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Nikki Juvan brings her passion for the Arts and over twelve years of elementary teaching experience to Bridge School. Nikki believes very strongly in incorporating the Arts, particularly music and theater, across all areas of the curriculum and is especially excited about the Arts classes at Bridge.

She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Musical Theater from the Hartt School of Music/University of Hartford in Connecticut and her Master’s in Education from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a K-6 Vermont teacher’s license with Highly Qualified Teacher status. For seven years she was the Kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s School in Middlebury where she used music and theater extensively in her classroom, including writing plays with her students that were performed at various community events. She also spent five years at the Renaissance School where she developed and taught the Music and Theater Arts Curriculum.

Nikki is an accomplished singer and actress, having played leading roles with Lyric Theatre Company (Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls), Middlebury Community Players (Marian in The Music Man), and 5 different productions of The Sound of Music in which she played Maria. She is also the teacher and creator of the THT Kids program at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater and has directed children’s theater productions at many different schools as well as with Lyric Theatre Company.

She lives in Middlebury with her husband, photographer Trent Campbell, and her college-age daughter and step-daughter. They have a dog and the two greatest cats in the world, Meredith and Willson.

Jen Grilly–Older Home Center Teacher

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Jen comes to Bridge School with over 10 years of teaching experience. Jen graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Elementary Education. While working towards her B.S., she student-taught at the Mckeever Environmental Learning Center, in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania where she discovered that teaching kids about the natural world around them was her passion.

After graduating, Jen taught natural history, science and outdoor education across the country, including six years at Nature’s Classroom and three years at Ezperanza Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts. At Esperanza Academy, Jen developed an athletic program and an outdoor education program. Jen also spent a season as a Wilderness Therapy guide for at-risk teens in Alaska, leading trips up to 52 days long. Most recently, Jen has served as the Assistant Director of the Wilderness Program at the Hyde School in Bath, Maine.

Through her travel and non-traditional teaching experience, Jen found a great appreciation for how we are all connected to each other and share the same dreams, strengths, and challenges.  Her goals as an educator are to ensure each student feels important and valued in her classroom, and to help them see their own unique potential, just as her teachers have done for her.

When Jen is not in the classroom or working with students outdoors, she can be found rejuvenating her soul as she hikes, bikes, canoes, swims, practices yoga, or sits on her back porch with some tea.  She and her fiancé love spending time with their dogs, cooking, and sharing meals with great friends.

Sarah Evans–Spanish, Arts and Bananas Teacher 

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Sarah joins Bridge School with a combined degree in education, English and Spanish from the University of Vermont, and Sarah has her Vermont Educator’s License. She is drawn to teaching because she enjoys fostering in others the excitement to learn, and loves sharing her passion for reading, writing, and the arts.

Sarah has always delighted in theater, ever since age six when she played her debut role (as a talking door). In the years that followed, she has had many wonderful opportunities to be involved in school and community productions such as The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, SeussicalHello Dolly, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. At the University of Vermont, she served as an officer of the theater troupe, the University Players, and wrote and directed two shows during her time there. Her senior thesis took the form of a play, entitled Like Any Other Woman, which tells the true story of the first female mayor in the United States. Sarah has been happy to share her love of theater with her sixth grade class while student teaching, and is excited to work with Bridge School students on theater and writing projects!

Sarah completed her student teaching at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, VT where she both taught 6th grade and advised the Drama Club. During the summer, Sarah works as Assistant Director and Head Counselor if Malta Community Center Youth Theater Program in New York.

Sarah is a red belt in Taekwondo, sells hand-knit hats on her own Etsy store,  and she has lived in several Spanish speaking countries abroad!

Bridge School Hosts “Most Likely to Succeed” Documentary Screening

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On Wednesday, May 17, Bridge School and Middlebury Underground present a screening of the award-winning education documentary Most Likely to Succeed, followed by a dialogue about what matters most for education today.

Most Likely to Succeed profiles the origins of our current educational system, developed a century ago during the rise of the industrial age. Since that time, the world economy has transformed profoundly, but the U.S. education system has not. The film focuses on the story of a school in San Diego that is rethinking what the experience of going to school looks like. As viewers follow students, parents and teachers through a truly unorthodox school experience, the audience is forced to consider what sort of educational environment is most likely to succeed in the 21st century?

The purpose of this event is to foster meaningful discussion among educators, administrators, parents, and students about our education system, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to pursuing new approaches.

Respect for Children–Using Fidget Spinners as a Tool for Learning

This is the first in a series of blog posts examining Bridge School’s educational philosophy tenets–Personal Excellence, Respect for Children, Engaged and Passionate Learners and Caring Community. For more details on each of these tenets, visit our Philosophy page.

Fidget spinners have become ubiquitous in classrooms around the country. First marketed as a tool for students who have difficulty focusing in class, they have created a buzz amongst parents, teachers, and school districts. The explosive popularity of the toy led many school districts to create blanket bans on spinners in the classroom–the whirring sound and mesmerizing motion can be distracting, and there isn’t substantiated evidence that they help students focus.

At Bridge School, however, we asked: What if we use fidget spinners as a powerful tool for learning? What if we respect our students’ curiosity, and explore fidget spinners in partnership as teachers and students?

At Bridge School, fidget spinners have become a meaningful opportunity to learn physics, as well as an opportunity to practice self-control in the classroom. Instead of creating a strict rule, we respected the children’s natural curiosity and structured our teaching to meet students’ interests.

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We used fidget spinners as a real-world way to understand potential and kinetic energy, friction, and to practice the skills of scientific inquiry.

We asked:

  • Why and how do fidget spinners spin?
  • Why do fidget spinner spin so well without stopping?
  • What scientific questions do I have about a fidget spinners that I can answer by experimenting on it?
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                      Students conducting an experiment looking at the length of spin time on different surfaces.

The learning goals for this unit were:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate and explain the motion of a fidget spinner as an example of energy being transferred.
  • Students will be able to explain why the ball bearing mechanism inside a fidget spinner reduces energy lost to heat through friction.
  • Students will be able to ask and answer question about a fidget spinner and collect qualitative or quantitative data.

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Finally, fidget spinners have allowed us to help students cultivate their own self-control and behavior management. Rather than banning fidget spinners in the classroom, we engaged students in a dynamic examination of what it looks like to use a spinner as a tool versus as a toy. Students are allowed to use them in classes, so long as they do not cause a distraction to themselves or others. This learning can be messy and take time–however, it provides an authentic way for students to understand how their own actions impact both their learning, and their classmates’ learning. We demonstrate respect for children by learning with them in partnership.

Our philosophical tenet of “Respect for Children” highlights our pedagogical focus on child-centered, constructivist learning. At Bridge School, we believe students learn best when they construct their own learning through hands-on exploration alongside teachers. This unit respected children’s desire to learn about the world around them, and honored their natural curiosity

-Amanda Warren, Mentor-Teacher

Joslyn Cassady, new Mentor-Administrator

Joslyn was born in California and split her childhood years between California and rural Iowa. She attended high school in the Sacramento area where her parents were employed in the public school system. Joslyn attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, the town her Norwegian ancestors immigrated to in the nineteenth century.

She attended graduate school in cultural anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For her field research she spent nearly three years conducting fieldwork in Arctic Alaska on the impact of radioactive pollution on Iñupiat (Inuit) health.

Upon graduation, Joslyn was hired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate disease outbreaks across the country. She then spent eleven years as an anthropology professor at Drew University. She also served as Director of Behavioral Sciences for eight years, where she gained extensive experience in programmatic administration and assessment.

Joslyn currently lives in New Haven where she and her husband, fellow anthropologist Marc Boglioli, are raising their three daughters: Willa, 12, Quinn, 10, and current, happy Bridge student, Thea, 5.

Joslyn is thrilled to be part of the Bridge School team and is looking forward to working with the entire community to ensure that this special school continues to provide transformational educational experiences long into the future.

Bridge School's new Mentor-Administrator