The Bridge Years
The Bridges Academy prides itself on building a strong foundation for learning, including the fundamentals of reading, writing, and math complemented by a well-rounded program that includes foreign language, STEM, music and more. Within that, we also feel that it is imperative to equip our children with the skill sets necessary for success in those areas as well as in the future. While many schools are adding 5th grade specifically into their Middle Schools due to staff consolidation and budget management, our school has opted to do what we feel is best for children by removing them and assigning them their own distinct program. With that said, it is our pleasure to introduce the Bridge Program at the Bridges Academy, a hybrid program, targeting the very best elements of both our Lower and Middle schools.
4th and 5th graders are just beginning to adjust to their lives in early adolescence during these years; figuring out themselves not only as learners but also as people. Their skills, abilities, and interests range far and wide, and the transition into Middle School can sometimes be a challenge. Adjusting to the new routine of changing classes, increased homework demands, and the social pressures that can sometimes follow through the middle years requires the critical attention of caring adults focusing on their academic, social, and emotional well-being. This is especially important after the challenges created during the past year by the pandemic.
Working together as a "pod," the 4th and 5th graders have been given a designated area of our campus to call their own and are assigned a specific team of teachers to work with them within a two-year sequence. While the attention will remain on the aforementioned academic foundations including their special-area classes, extra attention is also paid on developing important skill sets such as academic honesty, time management, organization, and study skills. Additionally, with the support of other experts in different areas, there is emphasis on peer-to-peer relationships while covering the important concepts that are often challenging in the "tween" years, including bullying, peer mediation, self-advocacy, and healthy decision-making.
For the 2021-2022 school year, schedule upgrades to the 4th grade include classes in student advisory, health, geography, study skills and research in addition to the experience of moving from class to class. Upgrades to the 5th grade schedule include the addition of Civics as a primer to the study of history in the Middle School, additional time for Art and Steam as well as the integration of 5th grade students into Middle School specific activities such as the weekly flex (elective) class and optional overnight field trip in December. The theme of “Community” will be paramount, and is developed further with the overnight trip to The Ashokan Center in October. Within that experience, students will get out of their comfort zone in a tranquil setting that helps to forge friendships and build Bridges with their classmates.
At Bridges, our character education program is focused on teaching and building a community, or "school family", of mutual respect and understanding. We prioritize the importance of having respect for self and others by acknowledging students within the framework of the Character Counts program. With small classes, and a student-centered approach, our teachers are able to identify and understand the social-emotional needs of their students so that they are comfortable to be at their best both in and out of the classroom. We have also recently engaged in a partnership with the Making Caring Common project developed by Harvard University. By participating in the student survey work that supports this program, we are better able to guide children as they embark on their journey into becoming responsible, self-reliant citizens of the twenty-first century.
All students in the Bridge Program receive weekly instruction in the following core subjects: language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, Mandarin, French or Spanish, music and art. Aligned with best practice, technology is woven throughout all subjects and students frequent the Makerspace for innovative, project-based learning and the Greenhouse for hands-on learning.
We aspire to provide the most academically accelerated program while teaching “The Whole Child” in a complex, twenty-first-century global community. Our Lower grades incorporate the “Fundations Reading Program” which uses a multi-sensory approach to focus on individual learning styles. To complement that, we also use guided reading strategies that allow each student to excel to the level that they are capable of.
Throughout their time at Bridges, foreign language instruction is a constant area of focus. At Bridges Academy, we believe that exposure to this critical skills should begin at a young age when a child is more receptive to language development. Our program offers French, Mandarin, and Spanish. By graduation, our students have studied 2 out of 3 of these offerings, and are among the top achievers on a local and national level. In most cases, our students are prepared for no less than a level 2 placement by the time they enter the 9th grade. The study of foreign languages is an important aspect of being a global citizen and greatly distinguishes our graduates.
EXTENDING THE LEARNING
Exploratory classes in technology, public speaking, art, health and physical education, band, strings, and chorus complement the program and provide a well-rounded education for students. Our students flourish when participating in activities such as our school musical, their involvement in NYSSMA, and the National History and Geography Bees to name a few. Several of our 4th to 7th grade students are Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) scholars.
Our students are accepted into the most desired day and boarding secondary schools and ultimately into the finest colleges and universities.
The Bridges Academy embraces STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) to prepare our students for the future demands of these skill sets in the workplace. In recent years, significant investment has been made in offering robotics, engineering, 3-D printing, augmented reality and one to one computing throughout the grade levels. These types of “maker” activities are integrated into the courses to enhance the student experience.
In grades 3-8, our school offers Chromebooks to all of our students to be utilized as a tool to support and enhance their learning. By graduation, our students are prepared to take the NY State Regents exam in Earth Science and Algebra.
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
During the year, The Bridges Academy offers several field trips throughout Long Island and New York City. In the Lower School, some of these trips include local experiences to Sagamore Hill, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Bethpage Village restoration, the Long Island Children's Museum and the Riverhead Aquarium. Theatrical productions at Hofstra and Stonybrook University as well as to the Patchogue and Boulton Center helps to support our theater arts and academic units of study.
Additional programs offered through Bridges, provide opportunities to discover a new passion, or deepen exploration in a familiar area of interest. Chess, robotics, soccer, model congress, basketball, theater and yearbook to name just a few of the many choices offered throughout the year.
These activities provide students with the opportunity to build leadership skills, strengthen self-esteem and nurture their capacity for global competence.