INITIAL VISIT SCHOOL DESCRIPTION —
CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Part I: Identifying Data

 

Today’s Date: `December 10, 2012

School:

Bridges Charter School

Address:

1335 Calle Bouganvilla

Thousand Oaks, CA

91360

 

Number and Street

City and State

Zip Code

Mailing Address
(if different):

     

     

     

 

Number and Street

City and State

Zip Code

Telephone #:

805 492 3569

Fax #:

     

Email Address:

ruben.diaz@bridgescharter.org

Chief Administrator:

Ruben Diaz

School District:

NA

Enrollment:

     

Current Grade Span
to be Reviewed:

K-8

County:

Ventura

Check any of the following that apply to your school:

Comprehensive

Community Day School

Alternative Education/ Continuation

Independent Study

Charter School

Home Study

Online Distance Learning

Other: Explain:      

 

If any portion of your school’s curriculum is delivered online, please indicate what percentage of your coursework is offered online      %, and the percentage of students utilizing the online delivery system      %.
Briefly describe:
     

 

Note: If enough space is not available on the following pages, please append additional sheets.

Part II:  School Profile

Write an introductory paragraph or two about the school that briefly summarizes the information found in the “description” below that can be used by the Visiting Committee in their report to the Commission. This brief overview of the school will assist Commissioners in understanding the basic information about the school.

BRIDGES Charter School is a learning community serving grades K -8 that is committed to academic mastery founded on a Whole Child education philosophy in which every student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.  All BRIDGES students are expected to achieve academic competence and critical thinking proficiencies, balanced with social-emotional confidence.  Values incorporated into the experiential learning environment include:  development of personal responsibility, responsibility to the community, healthy habits and environmental sustainability. Parents are partners in their children’s learning at BRIDGES Charter School.  A  variety of opportunities for authentic parent engagement, education and leadership are provided in which all parents are encouraged to participate.

 

 BRIDGES provides a HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM to families who share the Whole Child philosophy and wish to home-school their children under the guidance of a credentialed supervising teacher.  Students have the opportunity to study at home and also participate in the unique nurturing environment of BRIDGES in an array of experiences including field trips, assemblies, performing arts and outdoor education.  Home-schooling parents have access to the campus resources and on-site educators who help manage and support their goals.

 

Provide a description of the school that includes such areas as:

Š      The community in which the school is located, including whether rural, suburban, industrial, or residential; socio-economics: parent population, ethnic distribution, etc.

Š      When the school was opened

Š      Initial location of the school and any location changes

Š      Enrollment by grade level

BRIDGES Charter School was founded by a group of educators and parents who were motivated to expand and further develop the Open Classroom Magnet Program that had existed for over 15 years at Conejo Elementary School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District.  A key factor that influenced the development of the charter was the impact of annual District budget cuts which resulted in lay-offs of teachers trained in the pedagogy of the magnet and the reduction in the amount of time the Director had to coordinate the magnet program.  A founding group of sixteen educators, parents and community members wrote and submitted a charter petition to the Ventura County Board of Education on December 16, 2009.

 

BRIDGES Charter, which is based on the “Whole Child” education philosophy, was authorized by the Ventura County Office of Education to begin operation in the 2010-11 school year.  The first year, BRIDGES shared space at the Glenwood School campus on Windsor Dr. in Thousand Oaks.  Due to size constraints, BRIDGES requested a larger campus from the District and moved to the former Park Oaks School campus on Calle Bouganvilla in Thousand Oaks, at the beginning of 2011-12.  For 2012-13, BRIDGES is enjoying its second year in the same location which has enabled a smooth and organized transition to the school year. The current campus is located in a suburban thirty-year established residential area in the mid socioeconomic level. 

 

BRIDGES Charter School is a learning community serving grades K -8 that is committed to academic mastery founded on a Whole Child education in which every student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.  All BRIDGES students are expected to achieve academic competence and critical thinking proficiencies, balanced with social-emotional confidence.  Values incorporated into the experiential learning environment include:  development of personal responsibility, responsibility to the community, healthy habits and environmental sustainability. 

 

Students enrolled in BRIDGES come from many parts of the Thousand Oaks area and some are from outside of the Conejo Valley District.  Tours and orientation meetings are provided for prospective students and their families to acquaint them with BRIDGES’ Mission, Vision and Goals.  Parents apply to enroll their students based on their belief that there is a positive match with the goals and learning environment at BRIDGES.  A lottery is held annually to draw names for the entering kindergarten class and for any spaces available at other grade levels.  There has been a waiting list for enrollment in place every year of BRIDGES’ three years of operation.

 

Parents are partners in their children’s learning at BRIDGES Charter School.  A  variety of opportunities for authentic parent engagement, education and leadership are provided.  Parents of BRIDGES students are asked to commit up front to volunteer significant amounts of time to the school as classroom volunteers, enrichment and event organizers, Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and Parent Managed Cohorts (PMCs).  The PMCs  manage many of the school’s enrichment and non-administrative functions including:  the Library, Community Outreach, the Green Team - sustainability, the Garden,  the Healthy Food Agreement, Fundraising, Visual and Performing Arts, Grant Writing and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.

 

BRIDGES provides a HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM to families who share the Whole Child philosophy and wish to home-school their children under the guidance of a credentialed supervising teacher.  The supervising teacher works one-on-one with the parent and student in regularly scheduled conferences to provide personalized curriculum according to the student’s interests, strengths and weaknesses.  The curriculum is aligned with state academic standards and the Whole Child philosophy.  Students have the opportunity to study at home and also participate in the unique nurturing environment of BRIDGES in an array of experiences including field trips, assemblies, performing arts and outdoor education.  Home-schooling parents have access to the campus resources and on-site educators who help manage and support their goals.

 

 

Give demographic information regarding the students, including the following:

Š      Ethnicity or nationality (list percentages of the following categories: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; African American, not of Hispanic Origin; Filipino; Hispanic or Latino; Pacific Islander; White, not of Hispanic Origin; or Other)

Š      English proficiency

Š      Gender/age mix

Š      Special populations

Š      Mobility of students

Š      Analyzed and interpreted student achievement data, including subpopulations, if applicable. Include three years of data and comparative state or national data, if available.

Š      Student follow-up

     

Is there anything that is unique or special about your school that is not addressed in this or other parts of this form?

Challenges of Governance

 

Mid-way through BRIDGES’ second year of operation, the governance aspect of the school went into disarray due to philosophical and operational disagreements involving Board members and members of the founding group.  Between spring of 2011 and winter of 2012, five Board members resigned,  two of the founding staff departed and the Director left.   Some families transferred their children out of the school resulting in a drop in the enrollment.  During this period of leadership instability, the Ventura County Office of Education, the charter authorizer, implemented an audit and found a number of violations in the areas of:  declining enrollment and insufficient fiscal reserves, board governance, school management and adherence to mission and vision. 

 

On February 27, 2012, the Ventura County Board of Education served BRIDGES Charter School with a Notice to Cure and Correct Violations.  BRIDGES was given 60 days to correct the violations.  At the same time, the County Superintendent of Schools stepped in to assist BRIDGES by recruiting an experienced public school administrator to serve as the Interim Director.  From March through June 2012, Dr. Nancy Carroll, assisted by Ellen Smith, both retired superintendents, worked with BRIDGES’ new and continuing Board members to remedy and substantially address all of the violations to the County Board’s satisfaction during the designated time period.  The Notice to Cure and Correct was rescinded on May 30, 2012.  

 

Governance and management at BRIDGES went through a low point but has recovered and is now even stronger than before. A state-wide recruitment in the spring of 2012 resulted in the hiring of a successful and experienced school administrator, Ruben Diaz, to be the new BRIDGES Director.   Mr. Diaz moved his family from Fresno to Thousand Oaks after school was out, met with teachers and BRIDGES families over the summer and participated in a full day retreat with the BRIDGES governing board in August.  He has made a very smooth and enlightened transition into his new leadership position.

 

The newly constituted 2012 Board of Directors has demonstrated great professionalism and commitment to a governance culture that is respectful, inclusive and based on full knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of the leadership team.  They have shown dedication toward educating themselves on the Brown Act and toward the application of a healthy governance model with shared vision, transparency in communications and conscientious conservative budgeting and resource allocation.  As evidenced by the unopposed re-election of the current Board in June 2012, the BRIDGES Board of Governors has earned the respect of the school community for their effective leadership in challenging times.

 

Part III:  The Criteria

As you answer the following questions, please strive to base your answers on objective evidence and data that is available at the school. Please remember that this is an Initial Visit Application and not a full self-study. Try to answer questions with one to two paragraphs. Please refer to the rubrics in the WASC Initial Visit Procedures Manuals for California Public Schools (www.acswasc.org/ pdf_cde/InitialVisitProcedures_WASCCDE_manual.pdf) for areas to review prior to responding to the questions below.

Category A
Organization

A1. Vision and Purpose Criterion: Does the school have a clearly stated vision or purpose based on its student needs, current educational research, and the belief that all students can achieve at high levels? Supported by the governing board and the central administration, to what extent is the school’s purpose further defined by expected schoolwide learning results and the academic standards? Do the expected schoolwide learning results stress attainment of the academic standards?

BRIDGES Slogans

“Whole child, whole family, whole community”

“Hands on education, connecting kids to their world”

 

Mission

Our mission is to educate the whole child using a combination of innovative curriculum and instruction along with social/emotional education embedded in the program. Students will be enabled to reach their innate intellectual, creative, and leadership potential through our commitment to nourish curiosity, compassion, independence, resourcefulness, and respect for diversity.

 

Vision

Our vision is to create a K-8 learning community in which all teachers, parents and students partner to support the cognitive, emotional and social success of our students; where there exists positive, respectful and peaceful collaboration; and where children are enabled and empowered to become lifelong learners and compassionate global citizens.

 

Our Goal

BRIDGES Charter School is committed to providing a high quality, effective, and

standards- based program through the education of the whole child, whereby the

individual student is challenged, engaged, supported, healthy and safe.

 

BRIDGES Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs) for All Students:

     Demonstrate mastery of academic standards in meaningful ways

     Utilize effective oral and written expression

     Apply critical thinking and problem solving

     Employ powerful reasoning, negotiating and creative thinking skills

     Practice personal responsibility

     (“Respect myself, Respect my neighbor, Respect my school”)

     Grow in confidence and competence, academically, socially and emotionally

 

The Vision, Mission and Goal Statements and ESLRs of BRIDGES Charter School are reflected in the work done by the highly qualified teaching and support staff who apply current and developmental educational research methodologies and provide attention to the various needs and learning styles of each student.  Collectively, it is the belief of the BRIDGES staff that all students can achieve academic competence and critical thinking proficiencies, balanced with social-emotional confidence (ESLRs).  Further, the staff  believe that all students can achieve these outcomes through the academic support of a caring staff in full partnership with parents with an emphasis on building meaningful relationships throughout the BRIDGES Charter School community.

 

Development of the Vision, Mission and ESLRs included a broad base of educators, parents and community members when the charter petition was written.   The “whole child” educational philosophy embodied in these statements is clearly communicated in all facets of BRIDGES operations including the recruitment of new enrollees, the employment of new staff at BRIDGES and in the policies of the Board of Directors. Consequently, there is a shared vision throughout the BRIDGES Charter School community and a strong commitement to to the purpose of the school.

 

There is consistency between the Vision and Mission with the instructional program which is designed for all students to achieve academic standards and ESLRs through a combination of aligned instructional practices, academic and social support and attention to individual student’s learning needs.

 

The Board of Directors, the Director, teachers and support staff, together with parent leaders annually review data related to student achievement standards and ESLRs in order to plan appropriate improvement strategies. Review and revision of the Vision, Mission and ESLRs is being incorporated into an annual systematic strategic planning process.  The strategic planning process was initiated by the Board of Directors at their August 2012 retreat at which time, Key Goals for 2012-13 were established for the current school year as guidance for concerted ongoing school improvement. The process will be expanded to include additional stakeholders in the spring of 2013.

 

A2. Governance Criterion: Does the governing board (a) have policies and bylaws that are aligned with the school’s purpose and support the achievement of the expected schoolwide learning results and academic standards based on data-driven instructional decisions for the school; (b) delegate implementation of these policies to the professional staff; and (c) monitor results regularly and approves the single schoolwide action plan and its relationship to the Local Educational Agency (LEA) plan?

The BRIDGES Charter School Board of Directors is actively involved with the establishment of policies and bylaws that are aligned with and support the accomplishment of the school’s Vision and Mission.  The budget and fiscal resources are also carefully allocated by the Board to address instructional and staffing priorities related to student needs and achievement of academic standards and ESLRs. The Board works collaboratively with the Director to provide instructional direction based on the Vision and Mission, then delegates the implementation of the instructional program and strategies to the professional staff.  The Board monitors the results of student achievement goals and approves the single schoolwide action plan, which incorporates the Strategic Goals for 2012-13.

 

The Board has delegated primary responsibility to the Director for implementing its policies and for accomplishing the ongoing schoolwide improvement strategies and the Strategic Goals for 2012-13 to ensure student achievement of academic standards and ESLRs.  These are the criteria upon which the Director is evaluated along with an expectation for establishing and maintaining a collaborative, respectful, inclusive culture throughout the school community. Complaint and conflict resolution procedures are included in the Director’s responsibilities for maintaining a healthy school culture and climate.

 

The strategic planning process, which is being expanded to include the participation of parents along with staff, provides a format and process for systematically collecting and analyzing data to monitor student achievement of academic standards and ESLRs and to develop ongoing improvement strategies.

 

Teamwork and respect between the Board, the Director, parent group leaders and the teaching staff is evidence of the highly functioning governance structure that is now effectively in place at BRIDGES after the challenges of the preceding year.

 

 

A3. Leadership and Staff Criterion: Based on student achievement data, to what extent does the school leadership and staff make decisions and initiate activities that focus on all students achieving the expected schoolwide learning results and academic standards?

The BRIDGES Best Practices Team, comprised of the Director, the Curriculum Specialist, Home School Coordinator, the Resource Specialist and three teacher representatives, one from each of the grade span teams (K-2, 3-5, 6-8), analyze student achievement data and make decisions about how to improve the expected schoolwide learning results and mastery of academic standards by all students.  The team meets regularly, with specific goals during the 2012-13 school year to establish and refine common benchmark assessments,  to analyze results and to share best practices to improve mastery of academic standards by all students - including those who need acceleration or additional assistance.  Annually, the leadership team participates in the strategic planning process along with parents to review student achievement data and accomplishment of ESLRs over the entire school year and makes recommendations to the Board for the revision and refinement of the Strategic Goals for the following school year.  This document is incororated in the single schoolwide action plan.

 

 

Responsibilities and relationships of the staff members, students and parents are articulated and defined in a series of handbooks:  BRIDGES Employee Handbook, BRIDGES Student Handbook and BRIDGES Parent Advisory Council Handbook.  The latter two are available on the BRIDGES website for easy access by the community.  Board policies, bylaws, the BRIDGES Charter petition and the MOU with the Ventura County Office of Education are all linked on the website for public access.

 

The administrative staff, lead by the Director and including the Curriculum Specialist, Resource Specialist, School Psychologist, Home School Coordinator, Office Manager and Office Clerk, work collaboratively together to ensure that internal communication systems are operating as effectively as possible and that procedures and conflict resolution processes are established and implemented with consistency.  The actions of the administrative staff are focused on supporting the work of instructional staff in their mission of ensuring student achievement of academic standards and the ESLRs.

 

Systematic communication with the Board is facilitated through reports that are regularly agendized at Board meetings and presented by various members of the grade span teams, parent groups (PAC, PMCs), and administration.  The Director and Curriculum Specialist attend all Board meetings and provide consistent two-way communication between Board and faculty and facilitate mutual support of instructional initiatives and accountability for student learning.

 

Does the school leadership and staff annually monitor and refine the single schoolwide action plan based on analysis of data to ensure alignment with student needs?

The BRIDGES Best Practices Team, comprised of the Director, the Curriculum Specialist, Home School Coordinator, the Resource Specialist and three teacher representatives, one from each of the grade span teams (K-2, 3-5, 6-8), analyze student achievement data and make decisions about how to improve the expected schoolwide learning results and mastery of academic standards by all students.  The team meets regularly, with specific goals during the 2012-13 school year to establish and refine common benchmark assessments,  to analyze results and to share best practices to improve mastery of academic standards by all students - including those who need acceleration or additional assistance.  Annually, the leadership team participates in the strategic planning process along with parents to review student achievement data and accomplishment of ESLRs over the entire school year and makes recommendations to the Board for the revision and refinement of the Strategic Goals for the following school year.  This document is incororated in the single schoolwide action plan.

       

Describe the process used to make educational decisions and to initiate activities that focus on all students achieving the expected schoolwide learning results and academic standards?

Throughout the year, the teacher members of the Best Practices Team are responsible for leading their grade span teams in collaborative data analysis and the coordination of instructional planning and improvement practices that ensure consistency of implementation and support for all students in the grade span.  The staff meet every Friday in either a grade span team, by grade levels or the entire faculty together to make instructional and operational decisions related to student learning for which there is shared accountability.

A4. Qualified Staff Criterion: To what extent does a qualified staff facilitate achievement of the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results through a system of preparation, induction, and ongoing professional development?

The BRIDGES staff is 100% high-qualified or in progress (one teacher) and are all properly assigned in their credential areas.  All teachers have CLAD certification for working with the __% of the school population that are English Learners.  ___ teachers have Masters degrees.  When there is a teaching vacancy, BRIDGES makes employment decisions based on the appropriate qualifications, credentials and experience required for the position.

 

Professional development for BRIDGES instructional staff is planned and implemented based on an analysis of student needs with regard to academic standards and ESLRs and is aligned with established professional growth goals.   Resources are designated to fund workshops, trainings and release time for teachers to participate in professional development activities.  Professional development focus areas for all staff in 2012-13 are: mathematics, particularly support for the implementation of the Everyday Math program and the uses of technology tools for  teaching and learning

 

Induction is provided for teachers who are new to the profession through participation in the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program, assisted by trained on-site support providers on the BRIDGES staff. Ongoing professional development is built into the culture and practice of collaboration among teachers in which the sharing of best practices takes place in faculty meetings, Grade Span meetings and grade level meetings. 

 

Annual evaluation of the effectiveness of professional development is part of the strategic planning process in which year-long measures of student learning are analyzed, and staff development needs are identified. 

 

 

List by course those instances where teachers are not teaching in their areas of major or minor preparation, and specify the related preparation, interest, experience, or ability qualifying them to teach in the areas assigned.

     

Attach a copy of the school’s master schedule indicating staff assignment and length of period or module.

Describe any use made of regularly employed instructional assistants.

One part-time instructional assistant provides support to identified Special Education Students under the direction of the Resource Specialist.

Describe any regular use made of community volunteers.

BRIDGES has a robust volunteer program.  Every family signs a Volunteer Promise at the beginning of each year committing a number of hours weekly that they will devote directly to the classroom environment.  Parents do everything from running learning centers, to chaperoning field trips, to yard duty.  In addition to the time parents spend in the classroom, they also work on several annual events like the Community Fair and Harvest Festival in the Fall, and the Wine Dinner and Olympic Sports-a-thon in the Spring. 

 

The Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) oversees several subgroups, called Parent Managed Cohorts (PMC), developed based upon parent interest and/or expertise.  For example, there are PMCs for the Garden, Social Events, Library, Grant Writing, Fundraising, and Outdoor Classroom.

 

BRIDGES seven member Board of Directors is comprised of parent volunteers as well as two community members.  The community members on the Board are involved in the school at many different levels in addition to their governance role. 

 

BRIDGES has established relationships with businesses and the larger community.  Last Spring BRIDGES was awarded a grant from the local Whole Foods grocery store based in part upon BRIDGES families' shopping habits, and has also fostered relationships with other local businesses and organizations such as health and day-care providers serving kids and families.

 

Give the student-teacher ratio: total student enrollment as of October 1 divided by the total number of teaching personnel.

     

Describe the staff evaluation process.

Evaluation criteria for instructional staff is based on the CA Standards for the Teaching Profession and rubrics with the primary purposes being to promote professional growth and improve the quality and consistency of teaching.  Supervision includes ongoing observations by the Director and individual consultation with teachers about their progress toward annually set professional growth goals.  Professional grow goals are organized into three categories: school-wide goals shared by all staff, personal goals set by each individual and, as needed, goals established by the evaluator to address an individual outcome.

A5. Ongoing Professional Development Criterion: How does the school ensure that the leadership and staff are involved in ongoing professional development that focuses on identified student learning needs?

Professional development for BRIDGES instructional staff is planned and implemented based on an analysis of student needs with regard to academic standards and ESLRs and is aligned with established professional growth goals.   Resources are designated to fund workshops, trainings and release time for teachers to participate in professional development activities.  Professional development focus areas for all staff in 2012-13 are: mathematics, particularly support for the implementation of the Everyday Math program and the uses of technology tools for  teaching and learning.

 

Ongoing professional development is built into the culture and practice of collaboration among teachers in which the sharing of best practices takes place in faculty meetings, grade span meetings and grade level meetings.

 

Supervising Teachers at BRIDGES HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM attend monthly staff development meetings.  Each meeting focuses on an aspect of program and/or staff improvement. Homeschool staff also attended the following conferences and professional development opportunities:

 

     BTSA

     NVC (Non-violent Communication) Conference

     Summer Writing Institute

     2nd Grade Conference

     Readers and Writers Workshops

     California Consortium of Independent Study Conference

     California Charter School Association Conference

VCOE ATP (Administrator Training Program

 

Describe the ongoing professional development at the school? How is it initiated?

Under the leadership of the new Director, Ruben Diaz, BRIDGES has developed a series of committees and schedules to meet the varied needs of the students.  The first priority was to get organized and set up committees that would plan for needs of all grade levels.  Grade Span articulation planning teams have been established.  There is a grad span team for kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade teachers.  The next team consists of 3rd through 5th grade teachers.  And the final team consists of 6th through 8th grade teachers.  The teams focus on sharing out of pacing guides, scope and sequence conversations, development of benchmark assessments, discussion of benchmark rubrics and any other topic that might impact students in their transitions from each grade level to the next.

 

On the side of curriculum, BRIDGES has developed a Curriculum subcommittee that meets once a month.  The first focus of the committee was to ensure all grade levels have adequate curriculum materials for instructional purposes.  The committee is made up of a member from each grade level span.  The representative brings their information from their grade span to the committee meeting to  efficiently and effectively share schoolwide issues.  The second task of the Curriculum committee is to develop a new report card.  The team has reviewed concerns about the current report card and is taking into consideration the adoption of the new  Common Core Standards (CCS) and the school’s goals and philosophies.

 

Other projects on the agenda of the Curriculum committee are the implementation of the CCS in all classrooms at BRIDGES.  The Curriculum Specialist also serves on the committee and is currently researching implementation strategies of other schools to gain insight about how best to implement CCS at BRIDGES.  Also under consideration are the curricular needs of the Common Core Standards and how well current materials address the needs.

 

Grade level teams were also formed,  With multiple teachers teaching in the same grade levels, it is vital to have have teachers consistenly implementing curriculum and instruction.  After launching grade span teams, the grade level conversations have became much more focused on the specifics of scope and sequence (grade level achievement expectations), benchmarks and assessments.  Also discussed are policies for homework expectations (rigor and relevance), writing level expectations and how to assess student writing using grade level rubrics.

 

At the beginning of the school year, all teachers using the adopted math curriculum of Every Day Math (1st through 5th) were trained by Ventura County Office of Education math specialists in the implementation of Every Day Math.  The teachers were given a full day of professional development on implementation, usage of assessments and materials overview.  Within the first six weeks of school, all students were given the initial benchmark assessments and grade level teams met to review the data points and discuss where gaps exist.  Teachers are now working within grade level teams to plan, address and close any math gaps identified in the student achievement data.

 

 

A6. Resources Criterion: To what extent are the human, material, physical, and financial resources sufficient and utilized effectively to support students in accomplishing the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results?

All stakeholders are focused on one overarching outcome: developing the student into a whole person, focusing on cognitive abilities, social skills and emotional maturity.  Students are supported in all three areas by teachers, staff members, parents, community members and school partners.  The budget and fiscal resources are carefully allocated by the Board to address instructional and staffing priorities related to student needs and achievement of ESLRs based on annual analysis of student achievement data.  BRIDGES annual strategic planning process incorporates both  multi-year long- term planning and current year areas of focus.   It provides a touchstone for budget and resource planning and prioritization.

 

For 2012-13, the Board authorized resources to  expand enrollment to a more desirable number by adding an additional kindergarten class and another teaching position for the primary grade span.  Additional classrooms were added in the facilities agreement with Conejo Valley Unified School District to address the increased BRIDGES enrollment which has been projected for the next three years.  

 

For 2012-13, significant resources were allocated to ensure that there are sufficient curriculm materials along with appropriate professional development for effective implementation.   Academically, math was designated as the main focus area with reference to data points, professional development and curricular knowledge of the adopted math materials.    The first step in addressing any gaps was to ensure quality professional development for all staff members implementing Every Day Math.  All teachers were trained and supported in the content area of math early this year.   The second step will be to properly utilize all ordered materials for the benefit of instruction.  The third step will be the communication support to the parents to ensure parents are supporting their child at home.  A separate but similar goal was set for the junior high school program.  The 6th, 7th and 8th grade programs will utilize the CPM program for algebra, pre-algebra and general math.  The math teacher worked closely with the Curriculum Specialist to ensure all needed materials were ordered.

 

Two specific areas were identified as critical need areas for curriculum materials; math and science.  Math curriculum was ordered and implemented as stated above.  Science materials including texts and science kits have now been ordered for grades 4th through 8th.  Resources were identified in the budget to ensure all students have text books, and that teachers in the upper grades have materials to conduct hands on science lessons.

 

In addition to curriculum, significant technology needs have been identified.  During the spring of 2012, a sizeable budget allocation provided the opportunity to puchase and install computers, printers, software and individual response systems for students.  Ongoing training and support for using the new equipment and software is being provided among teachers as part of the effort to share best practices.  The need to develop and write a long-term Plan for Technology was established in the strategic planning process in August 2102 and  some initial planning steps toward this end have already begun by the Director and staff.

 

BRIDGES currently has  safe, funtional, clean and well-maintained facilities.   A new custodial cleaning contract was put in place at the end of 2011-12 which has resulted in improved levels of cleanliness including summer deep cleaning and ongoing daily cleaning.  In addition, a Whole Foods grant was awarded to BRIDGES last sping that will be utilized this year to develop outdoor learning spaces in the quad area of the campus with input from students and the school community.  

 

The following Strategic Goals for 2012-13 were developed by the Board during the stratgic planning process with analysis of student achievment data and with input from staff and parents.  The goals are being used to focus schoolwide energies and guide decisions with regard to the effective use of human, material, physial and financial resources.

 

BRIDGES CHARTER SCHOOL

Strategic Goals for 2012-13

 

Instruction:  Utilize student achievement data and evidence to assess student progress and design appropriate instruction and interventions.  Develop school-wide achievement expectations for each grade and establish related benchmarks/assessments/rubrics.  Revise report cards to be in alignment with expectations and benchmarks.  Collect, analyze and report Student Outcomes as described in Section III of the Bridges Charter.  Provide staff development tied to expected outcomes.  Implement newly articulated student conduct expectations in keeping with whole child philosophy and in collaboration with parents.

 

Technology:  Train teachers to expand on their current levels of expertise and support them in regular application of technology in the learning process for students and for tracking/analyzing student achievement.  Develop a long-range Technology Plan and explore possible funding sources for maintenance, replacement and expansion of equipment and software.

 

Funding and Facilities:  Develop a plan for implementing the adopted budget reductions and monitor budget expenditures.  Explore options for securing additional funding through grants, fund-raising and other sources.  Align expenditures to identified focus areas.  Monitor new custodial services contractor.  Implement grants with school-community input and coordinate with CVUSD. (Conejo Valley Unified School District)

 

BRIDGES Charter:  Monitor implementation of key charter components with emphasis on alignment of instructional practices with Whole Child philosophy.  Report to the school community about our successes and areas we are working to address.

 

Communication and Culture:  Promote respectful, inclusive communication strategies and teamwork throughout the school community.  Develop consensus with stakeholders about roles, rights and responsibilities

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Only Charter Schools should respond to the following two criteria (A7 and A8).

A7. Resource Planning and Fiscal Health Criterion: To what extent has the charter school’s governing authority and the school leadership executed responsible resource planning for the future. Is the charter school fiscally solvent and does it use sound and ethical accounting practices (budgeting/monitoring, internal controls, audits, fiscal health and reporting)?

BRIDGES contracts fiscal services management from Ventura County Office of Education -Business Services Authority (BSA) .  BSA  provides professional services in budgeting, fiscal monitoring, interal control procedures and sound ethical accounting.  Benny Martinez of BSA produces all required fiscal reporting for the Board and other agencies along with regular fiscal updates for Board meetings.  Importantly, BSA provides onging advisory support to the Director and the Board throughout the year and guides them through the budget development process.  Representatives of BSA attend almost every Board meeting and work very closely with the Board and Director informally by phone and in planning meetings.

 

During the period of leadership instability (winter 2012) described in the School Profile section, BSA provided the newly constituted Board and Interim Director with fiscal guidance which they promptly adopted and put into action including the implementation of reductions in staffing costs (furloughs and health benefits), and increases in enrollment which boosted ADA income to match budgeted targets for the year.  BRIDGES  ended the 2011-12 school year fiscally solvent and has a current balanced budget in place that included a contingency plan to keep BRIDGES solvent in light of the uncertain outcome of the November 2012 election which might have resulted in further cuts to education funding by the state of California. Since the voters approved Prop 30 in November, BRIDGES will additional unallocated resouces in their budget. 

BRIDGES has multi-year year projections of enrollment, employee and other costs for guidance in sound budget development in future years.      In addition, an independent audit is implemented annually which provides further oversight of procedural appropriateness and financial accuracy.  The audit is reported to the Board and BSA annually and is used to immediately resolve any procedural weakness or fiscal area of concern.  There were no significant findings in the most recent audit.

A8. Operational Standards and Procedures Criterion: Has the charter school developed policies, procedures, and internal controls for managing the financial operations that meet state laws, generally accepted practices, and ethical standards?

BRIDGES Board, working closely with BSA and the Ventura County Office Director of Charter School Support and Oversight, Dr. Tiffany Morse, reviewed and revised all of their policies, procedures and internal controls in the spring of 2012 to ensure compliance with state laws, accepted practices and ethical standards.

 

 

Category B
Standards-based Student Learning:
Curriculum

B1. Standards-Based Curriculum Criterion: How does the school ensure that all students participate in a rigorous, relevant, and coherent standards-based curriculum that supports the achievement of the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results?

BRIDGES has a board-adopted, standards-based curriculum that is aligned to CA state adopted curriculum.  Expectations for what  all students should know and be able to do for each subject area are defined in "scope and sequence" plans for each grade level. 

 

A Curriculum Committee was established in 2011-12 to coordinate an adoption schedule that fits the needs of BRIDGES' unique environment. The Curriculum Committee is comprised of the Curriculum Specialist along with a teacher representative from each grade grouping in the school (K-2, 3-5, 6-8). The Committee’s first assignment was a needs assessment survey.  Based upon that data a priority list was drafted.  Then the Committee reviewed multiple state-approved curricula make the best possible choice for BRIDGES.

 

Once the materials were selected, curriculum trainings were planned.  Trainings this year have included: the adopted math program - Everyday Math,  workshops in Lucy Caulkins’ Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop,  and training in the adopted English Language Arts curriculum. Training in all  curriculum areas includes methods for  integration of hands-on, project-based, experiential learning that is aligned with the BRIDGES'  educational philosophy. 

 

Through the regular communication of the Curriculum Commmittte and the collaboration of grade level and grade span teams, there is a high degree of consistency of content standards and skills taught by all teachers of common grades and courses.  Thus, students are ensured of a consistent curriculum that supports achievement of academic standards and ESLRs.

 

A regular cycle of curriculum review and revision will be undertaken by the Curriculum Committee in concert with the Leadership Team and the annual strategic planning process  to ensure that BRIDGES has a challenging , relevant and rigourous curriculm for all students.

 

Articulation with the local high schools that BRIDGES graduates attend provides valuable feedback about the academic strengths and challenges BRIDGES students demonstrate after they transition to the next educational level.  Implications for curriculm, instruction and assessment will be analyzed and included in the ongoing curriculum revision process.

 

BRIDGES HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM provides a personalized, challenging, coherent and relevant curriculum for each student that fulfills the school’s purpose and follows the state standards. The program allows students the flexibility to pursue academic achievement in a way that emphasizes their interests and enhances their motivation to learn. A key tenent is the belief that connecting the student’s interest to real-world learning is key to student achievement.

 

The HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM allows each student to receive individualized, differentiated instruction. The parent works with the Supervising teacher and student to tailor curriculum and content delivery methods to the individual needs of the student. Learning styles, interests and motivation are taken into consideration when learning plans are created. Parents can re-teach, reinforce and review topics as needed and move forward when mastery is accomplished. The Supervising Teacher reviews all student work, evaluates it and documents it against state standards.

 

The HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM is parent and student-driven; the program is shaped around the needs and wants of the families and students. The parent, student and teacher have the opportunity to address any student needs or issues on the spot. This may occur through the adaptation of the curriculum to meet the student’s needs or by establishing opportunities for the student to participate in an activity in depth. Students are allowed to work at the grade level that is most appropriate to his or her abilities, in each individual subject area. This allows students to stretch their intellectual abilities and be challenged, while avoiding setting them up for failure. Students are closely monitored to ensure that they work at an adequate and appropriate pace.

 

In the HOMESHCOOL PROGRAM, a great deal of attention is paid to the student’s curriculum. Initially, the student, parent and Supervising Teacher meet and discuss the details of the student’s courses, curriculum and learning plan for the school year and for each learning period. They discuss curriculum options. They discuss the standards, in order to see what needs to be covered and how they will be covered and addressed. Methods of delivery and curricular materials are discussed, in connection with the student’s learning style and interests. A great deal of conversation and thought goes into selecting the curriculum and curricular support for each area. And, the conversation continues as the student progresses through the school year. Curriculum that is not meeting the needs of the student is replaced until the right combination of materials and resources is assembled to best support and enhance the student’s achievement. The curriculum is homeschool-friendly and aligned to the state standards.

 

 

 

B2. Student Access Criterion: How does the school ensure that all students have access to the school’s entire program and assistance with a personal learning plan to prepare them for the pursuit of their academic, personal, and school-to-career goals?

 

Teachers and support staff work closely with the parents of every student in order to plan a program of instruction and academic, social-emotional support that will ensure the student' progress.  Conferences, progress reports and frequent communication between teachers, students and parents assist with the formulation of personal learning plans and strategies for every student to grow.

 

Teachers use data from benchmarks along with formal and informal assessments to determine levels of student achievement and identify individual student needs.  BRIDGES teachers also employ small group instruction to ensure accurate evaluation of student progress.  Frequent faculty communication about student levels and how best to serve all students helps to further facilitate meeting the needs of all individuals and to address their interests and learning styles. 

 

The Student Study Team process is employed to deal with students who are struggling.  The team, which includes the classroom teacher, parent, Resource Specialist, psychologist and other suport staff, pin-points the areas of difficulty and comes up with a plan of action.  The action plan frequently includes small group instruction, goals to strenghen or develop  missing skills, and extra time to accomplish the learning targets.  The team approach has proven effective in assisting students in both their academic growth as well as their social and emotional development.

 

The middle school schedule was created to facilitate overlapping articulation between teachers and students.  Every teacher sees every middle school student in both academic as well as non-academic elective classrooms.  The team format of the middle school ensures that all students are evaluated and assessed by all teachers.  Teachers are also able to play to their strengths, each taking on roles outside of their content area to tap into students diverse interests and strengths.  Middle school teachers have also consulted with high school teachers about alignment in both academic and social expectations in order to ensure a smooth transition to the high school level.

 

Students have age-appropriate opportunities to explore careers  and personal learning goals through the humanities curricula, in self-selected projects and in self-reflection of their own strengths, weaknesses and areas of desired growth.

 

B3. Graduation Criterion: How does the school ensure that upon completion of the high school program, students will be able to meet all the requirements of graduation? List (or attach) the graduation requirements of the school.

Not applicable.

Category C
Standards-based Student Learning: Instruction

C1. Challenging Learning Experiences Criterion:  To achieve the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results, how does the school ensure that all students are involved in challenging learning experiences?

BRIDGES students are actively involved in a variety of learning activities to assist them in achieving California academic standards and the BRIDGES established ESLRs.  The BRIDGES Charter specifically describes a variety of research-based instructional methods and innovative strategies that are aligned with Whole Child education philosophy.

 

All students are offered choices about how to best achieve an assignment product that demonstrates mastery of academic standards and ESLRs.  At BRIDGES, time and attention at directed on both the process of learning as as well as the product or outcome.  The attention on the learning process, provides BRIDGES students with intentional opportunties to think, investigate, research, reason and problem-solve as they undertake projects that require creativity, neogitations and discussions in group work and presentations skills supported by technology.  BRIDGES hands-on learning experiences help students to recognize their learning styles,  develop their peer interaction skills and better understand their own academic process.   

 

 

 

C2. Strategies and Resources Criterion: How does the school ensure that all teachers use a variety of strategies and resources, including technology and experiences beyond the textbook and the classroom, that actively engage students, emphasize higher order thinking skills, and help them succeed at high levels?

BRIDGES teachers engage in a variety of instructional strategies that specifically support the philosophy of Whole Child education, that children should be Challenged, Healthy, Safe, Supported, and Engaged.  Every teacher differentiates teaching strategies for all levels of learners.  A variety of experiences are provided to students with a focus on project-based, hands-on activities that facilitate the development of critcial thinking, problem-solving, communication/presentation skills, technology competencies and creativity.

 

As part of a self-evaluation process, in 2011-12, a committee of experts in the field of whole child education was established to conduct an observation into how well program implementation aligned with the ten guiding principles listed in the BRIDGES charter document.  Independent observation results showed that 90-100% of the time teachers' instructional practices were reflecting the guiding principles.  The following were observed:                                         

student engagement;

teacher/parent partnership;

fostering students’ natural desire to learn;

actively developing creative and critical thought;

each student showing a solid foundation of knowledge;

an interrelationship between concepts and topics;

students demonstrate self-discipline;

children are secure and cared for;

frequent communication between teacher, parent, and child; and

promotion of sustainable, environmentally conscious, healthy habits including the use of compassionate conflict resolution.

 

A powerful professional development practice at BRIDGES is “Teacher Walks.”   At least once a trimester teachers take time to observe their fellow faculty members in the classroom.  By using this type of internal professional development, teachers deepen their understanding of best practices and hone their instructional skills. This leads to rich collaboration between teachers, increases consistency of instruction and enhances the classroom experience for all students.  Coaching opportunities between teachers arise from Teacher Walks; with further coaching provided by the Curriculum Specialist and Director. 

 

At BRIDGES, Circle and Council are regular group interaction opportunities to build community, to develop social responsibility, to solve problems and to foster emotional growth.  Every classroom on campus holds a Circle at least once a week, in some classrooms Circle is daily ritual.  Teachers utilize the strategies of compassionate Conflict Resolution to mediate issues between children.  Teachers are active participants in modeling for the children how to respectfully work through differences as they arise.  This builds trust between teachers and students and among students with each other. 

 

Living a healthy lifestyle is also part of the learning experience at BRIDGES. Every student and their family sign a Healthy Food Agreement stating that they will avoid processed, high sugar foods while at school.  In addition to the Healthy Food Agreement, BRIDGES focuses on physical activity, every student has an hour of PE each week.  Also, BRIDGES has a focus on environmental stewardship, with an active recycling program, a school garden, and the creation of outdoor learning spaces.

 

 

Category D
Standards-based Student Learning: Assessment and Accountability

D1. Data Collection and Analysis Criterion: To what extent does the school use a professionally acceptable assessment process to collect, disaggregate, analyze and report student performance data to the parents and other shareholders of the community?

Annually, the Director reports State Testing results, disaggregated by subgroup, along with an analysis of trends to the Board of Directors. This information is also presented to teachers during a faculty meeting and further analyzed as the basis for setting acdemic performance goals, making program modifications and for planning professional development.  Results are reported to parents and the general community in several ways:  through the school’s website, in presentations to the Parent Advisory Council and to stakeholders during the annual strategic planning process.

 

 

D2. Variety of Assessment Strategies Criterion: How does the school ensure that all teachers employ a variety of strategies to evaluate student learning? How does the school ensure that the students and teachers use these finding to modify the teaching/learning process for the enhancement of the educational progress of every student?

A list of the various types of assessments used by teachers is outlined in the Charter document.  These include:

     Writing samples

     Portfolios

     Student projects, debates, and presentations

     Observations and anecdotal notes

     Standard-based content and skill assessments

     Research reports, group and individual projects, presentations, and creative involvement in demonstrating concept/content understanding, as scored by teacher and student created rubrics

     Exhibitions, projects, research, presentations, and effective use of experimentation processes, as scored by teacher and student created criteria and rubrics

     Teacher observation of student participation in physical activity, health and lifestyle choices

     Teacher-selected checklists and student self-evaluations

 

During the 2012-13 school year, grade levels have established common benchmark assessments for each trimester .  The data from the benchmark assessments are analyzed in grade level and grade span teams as a basis for modification of instruction and provision of academic support services for students. The Director and the Curriculum Specialist are accountable for monitoring the fidelity of implementation of student assesment measures throughout the school and for supporting teachers in  utilizing the findings systematically in their collaborations.

 

How is assessment data used at the school?

Assessment data is used to inform instruction, demonstrate the efficacy of curricular choices, identify student learning needs, and assist in the instructional delivery evaluation process.  The analysis of the data provides teachers with information for re-teaching, remediation and acceleration decisions.   Students utilize the information about their achievement to reflect on their accomplishments and form goals for self-improvement.  Communication with parents about student assessment data is important for providing support to their children at home on specific skills and concepts. Staff development needs and teacher support strategies are planned based upon analysis of student progress information and the challenges revealed.

D3. Review of Student Progress Criterion: To what extent does the school with the support of the district and community have an assessment and monitoring system to determine student progress toward achievement of the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results?

The BRIDGES faculty and administration have worked diligently to establish benchmark assessments at every grade level.  Data from these benchmark assessments aids in tracking student progress toward academic standards.  The Director and Curriculum Specialist dedicate much of their time toward observation and direct classroom support to teachers.  Meetings focused on the achievement of students are held on a regular basis.  The school has established a team approach for students who are struggling.  The Student Study Team process involves  experts on campus incuding the Resource Specialist and School Psychologist to meet with teachers and parents to come up with specific action plans to meet the needs of  students who may be struggling in either academic or social-emotional areas.

 

BRIDGES HOMESCHOOL staff regularly assesses student progress toward accomplishing the state standards. Students participate in all state-mandated testing, including the STAR test and the Physical Fitness test for 5th, 7th. As results are made available, parents and Supervising Teachers examine them to determine how best to modify each student’s educational program. Student progress is determined and monitored on multiple levels, including the individual student level, grade level and for the program as a whole. Results are reported to the BRIDGES Director and Board of Directors.

 

The HOMESCHOOL parents, as the day-to-day teachers, monitor their individual student’s progress through informal and formal evaluation and assessment. The Supervising Teacher oversees the general educational program of each student. The Supervising Teacher monitors each student’s progress through regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings where the student’s learning is discussed with both the parent and the student. The Supervising Teacher evaluates and reviews the student’s work and takes samples, assesses the quality and quantity of the student work. The Supervising Teacher and the parent then work together to create a formal learning plan for the upcoming learning period. In between the face-to-face meetings, the Supervising Teacher is available to assist the parent and the student as needed, through phone conferences and/or via email. The student can also ask for additional help and support during the weekly study hall sessions that are offered at the beginning of the Monday and Wednesday Enrichment Days held on campus.

 

For the fall 2013, BRIDGES HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM is looking into introducing a standards-based assessment program through Study Island. This program would allow supervising teachers to administer regular benchmark tests in Math and ELA. The results from these benchmark tests could then be used to drive instruction, as well as be analyzed to determine areas of need for each individual student. The results could be used to analyze and identify areas of need prior to student participation in the annual STAR testing.

 

Discussions about student progress in the HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM occur very regularly. The staff discusses the student’s needs and works on adjusting the program and adding curriculum to ensure academic progress. Currently, staff is working on incorporating the new Common Core Standards and making sure that at the beginning of 2013-14, the Supervising Teachers will be fluent in the CCS to introduce them to HOMESCHOOL families including a “Parent-friendly checklist”, so the parents have an easier way to follow the CCS.

 

D4. Assessment of Student Achievement Criterion: Does the assessment of student achievement in relation to the academic standards and the expected schoolwide learning results drive the school’s program, its regular evaluation and improvement, and the allocation and usage of resources?

The assessment of student achievement of acadmic standards and ESLRs is the basis for the evauation of the effectiveness of the instructional program and stratgic planning for improvement in all relevant areas of operations.  The Board and Director utilize the assessment data analysis and related strategic plan priorities to inform their decision-making about resource allocation throughout the year and in the budget development processs.

Category E
School Culture and Support for Student Personal and Academic Growth

E1. Parental and Community Involvement Criterion: To what extent does the school leadership employ a wide range of strategies to encourage parental and community involvement, especially with the teaching/learning process?

BRIDGES' slogan is – Whole Child, Whole Family, Whole Community.  A key feature of the school culture is family and community involvement.  The centerpiece of this involvement is classroom volunteerism.   Parents are trained by the classroom teacher to become an integral part of the learning process during the school day.  The current parent volunteerism rate is about 80% of all BRIDGES families.

 

In addition to classroom volunteering, parents have the opportunity to become involved in committees called Parent Managed Cohorts (PMCs) focused on various aspects of support to the school and the teaching/learning proces.  For example,  currently PMCs are operating in these areas:  Healthy Food, Garden, Outdoor Classroom, Grantwriting, Fundraising, Library, and Outreach.  These PMCs are overseen by the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), a non-profit organization in charge of garnering parent and community support for the school.  The Parent Advisory Council and PMCs are actively involved as partners in problem-solving, decision-making and advising at BRIDGES.

 

There is frequent and ongoing communication with parents through a variety of means. The weekly email message called "Director's Notes,"  keeps parents informed about schoolwide activities, news, student accomplishments and leadership opportunties  for parents.     The website provides  a weatlth of information about the school's programs, educational philosophy and expected learning outcomes for students.  Frequent communication between teachers and parents takes place during regular teacher office hours,  by email and via teacher web pages that outline classroom assignments, projects and events.

 

BRIDGES reaches out to the community in multiple ways. Several times a year, Parent Information Nights are hosted where interested parents are invited to a presentation about the school.  The focus of these evenings is recruitment for enrollment, but community members also come to learn about the program.  School tours are held frequently and are hosted and organized by the Outreach PMC.

 

In addition to educating the community about BRIDGES' programs,  social events are held that are open to all.  The annual Community Fair in the fall is open to members of the community at large to come enjoy an afternoon of fun.  BRIDGES has a booth at the local Rotary Fair where parent volunteers offer face painting and other crafts.  This year BRIGES was the fortunate recipient of a grant from Whole Foods Grocery.  This grant was a direct result of the partnership established between BRIDGES and a like-minded company. With the funds from this grant, BRIDGES is beginning the development of Outdoor Classroom learning spaces on the campus.

 

E2. Safe, Clean, and Orderly Criterion: How does the school ensure that it is a safe, clean, and orderly place that nurtures learning? To what extent is the culture of the school characterized by trust, professionalism, and high expectations for all students with a focus on continuous school improvement?

BRIDGES provides a safe, clean, nurturing environment for learning.  The establishment of a schoolwide mantra: Respect myself - Respect my neighbor - Respect my school, has solidified the culture of a compassionate learning environment.  Students are expected to take personal responsibility for their words and deeds, acting as trustworthy citizens of the community.  Adults on campus nurture a relationship of trust with students by respectfully listening to their ideas as well as being open to their choices.  The whole community works to maintain a safe, caring environment in which everyone is invested.

 

In the middle school a student leadership team has been created that takes on various responsibilities including mentoring younger students, assisting with the set-up of activities around campus, presenting during school tours, and giving their input about issues involving the student body as a whole.

 

The faculty and support staff maintain supportive professional relationships in order to focus on a high quality instructional program and nurturing learning environment for the students.  Teachers plan instruction together and share their their professional expertise to identify and solve problems related to student learning and support systems.  The staff share accountability for the success of all students and work collaboratively to identify and address students' learning needs.

 

The partnership between BRIDGES parents and staff  generates enthusiasm  and dedication toward the accomplishment of a myriad of enrichment activities,  programs that would not happen without the sustained positive energy of teamwork.   The trusting partnership between teachers and the parents of the children in their classes results in productive planning and support for the learning of every individual student. 

Indicate the procedures that are used for general communication among staff, between staff and students, and between staff and parents, etc.

In keeping with BRIDGES value on environmental stewardship, most communication is electronically based.  Director’s Notes serve as a weekly update to families about upcoming events and activities.  E-mail is the main source of communication between and among staff.  Many teachers have websites where parents can learn more specifically about the events in their child’s classroom.  Every classroom has established room-parents who are in charge of classroom/grade level communication which is primarily accomplished via e-mail.

 

E3. Student Academic Support Criterion: Do all students receive appropriate support along with an individualized learning plan to help ensure academic success?

 

All students receive appropriate support for their particular learning needs in relation to the standards-based curriculm and social-emtional development. English language development and support for core content acquisition is provided for English Learners.  Support for identifed Special Education students with learning challenges is provided by the Resources Specialist, Speech/Language Specialist, School Psychologist and classroom teachers.

 

When students need academic support, a variety of strategies are implemented in order to help them master the content standards most effectively, while also retaining their desire to learn. Small and flexible groups, with direct instruction by the teacher and with support by parent volunteers,  help students meet academic goals in an environment that is both accepting of individual interests and nurturing of learning differences. Extra practice in math and literacy skills is facilitated by "big buddies" from partner classrooms,  reinforced by team teaching of skill groups, and small group intervention provided by the Resource Specialist.

 

Resources including the library and computer labs are utilized to support learning, remediation and acceleration.  The after-school "Extentions Program"  provides homework assistance and tutoring along with supervision.

E4. Student Personal Support Criterion: Do all students have access to a system of personal support services, activities and opportunities at the school and within the community?

BRIDGES provides a variety of activities and services to support all students' emotional well-being, academic success, and to further their individual interests.  Parent-Teacher Conferences and Student Study Team are the formal processes for connecting all students as well as those at-risk with a well-rounded system of support services.  Co-curricular activities are well publicized and open to all students.

 

      Emotional Well-Being:

                 Circle

                 Council

                 School Psychologist

                 Social Support Groups

      Academic Success:

                 Intervention curriculum

                 Resource specialist

                 Indie Time

                 Electives for middle school students

                 Leadership opportunities

Enrichment:

                 Harvest Festival

                 Friends Fridays

                 Taste of Bridges

                 Band, ChoruArt

 

Part IV:  Major Achievements/Needs

Major Achievements/Accomplishments: Develop a list of major achievements/ accomplishments (within the past three years) of students, staff, and school.

Established BRIDGES Charter School as a successful magnet for families interested in experiencing Whole Child education including both an on-site program and a Homeschool independent study program.

Developed a learning community of educators, students and families that work together to provide a creative, stimulating, hands-on, experiencial instructional program.

Created a culture with shared values and a community that lives in accordance with principles of healthy living, sustainability, peaceful respectful interactions and conflict resolution.

Institutionalized  regular Circle Time and Council processes to develop personal responsibility, community loyalty and social-emotional confidence.  

Established a series of meaningful school traditions including:  Annual Back to School Picnic,   Harvest Festival, Community Fair, Haunted House, Graduation and Bridging Ceremony.

Empowered parents to manage important adjunct duties and projects including:  Community Outreach, the Green Team, the Garden,  the Healthy Food Agreement, Fundraising, Visual and Performing Arts, Grant Writing and Recreation Facilities Plan.

Created a Library-Learning Center from scratch by volunteers including the accumulation and organization of books for all age levels in an attractive learning space.

Increased academic rigor through development of scope and sequence - expected learning results, commmon assessments, data analysis and collaboration about effective instructional practices.

Expanded and fully developed the middle school component with departmentalized team teaching.

Grew the enrollment to a manageable range for  budget stability while maintaing a size that is compatible with interpersonal relationships  throughout the  learning community.

Established a positive school governance model in which the Board and the Director work together as a team with clear understanding of their different roles and responsibilities and promote a  respectful inclusive culture within the school community.

Major School Needs: Develop a list of major school needs, focusing on student achievement.

Stay focused on student achievement in the area of Mathematics through provision of ongoing staff development, and determining instructional strategies and support systems that will ensure continued student growth on benchmark and summative measures of math achievement.

Continue to develop technology expertise and capacity for both teaching and learning 21st century skills including the identification of resources for continual replacement and upgrading of equipment and software.

Continue the process of aligning curriulum materials,  instruction and assessment with the Common Core Standards and the testing program.

Facilitate ongoing articulation and sharing of best practices about ways to "differentiate learning" to address the needs, interests and learning styles of all students and to address the spectrum from remediation to acceleration.

Further develop programs and resources that support the social-emotional competence and personal responsibility for good citizenship throughout the community.