Bridge School - Legacy Booklet 2016

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1. THE BRIDGE SCHOOL OUR LEGACY STARTS WITH YOU (650) 696-7295 2. Dear Friends, Many of you know that we started The Bridge School in 1986 with the…
  • 2. Dear Friends, Many of you know that we started The Bridge School in 1986 with the idea that children with severe physical and speech impairments, like our son Ben, could and should have an equal opportunity to have access to education and to communication. Since the founding of The Bridge School the dream was kept alive through various fundraising efforts and through the generosity of donors who understand our mission and have supported us as we continue to make a difference in the lives of children. Every year we call upon our friends in the music industry to come together for a Bridge School Benefit Concert and their generosity, combined with that of our donors, has enabled us to develop an internationally recognized program that has set the standard for educating children, partnering with parents and disseminating what we’ve learned through a global outreach network. We are dedicated to ensuring that the dream and the reality of The Bridge School will continue in perpetuity. Take a moment to learn more about The Bridge School and what impact your contributions will have on our program by visiting our website, We would like to thank you for your continued support for our dream of The Bridge School. Sincerely, Pegi Young Neil Young
  • 3. The Bridge School is a non-profit organiza- tion whose mission is to ensure that indi- viduals with severe speech and physical im- pairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmenta- tive and alternative means of communica- tion and assistive tech- nology applications. Since its inception The Bridge School has provided a unique educational and com- munication program, implemented by a team of professionals that have dedicated them- selves to creating and disseminating a model of excellence. The strategies developed, employed and refined at The Bridge School are shaping the lives of children in the United States and throughout the world through our various lo- cal, national and international outreach efforts. This exciting journey we call The Bridge School began in 1986 has continued to grow beyond the wildest dreams of the original founders. At the local level, the organization serves children with severe physical and speech impairments in our education and transition programs. All our students, ranging in age from 3 to 14, have physical impairments that preclude them us- ing natural speech as their primary means of communication and that require them to rely on assistive technology for mobil- ity. Once the students have a reliable com- munication system and have obtained literacy skills, they leave the Bridge School and return to their local school district placement. The Bridge School’s transition team supports their re-entry into a mainstream educational program and continues to provide guidance and training throughout the students’ academic years, in- cluding college. Three of our Bridge School graduates have graduated college! ABOUT US OUR BELIEFS Our organization was founded and its mission established on the beliefs that: (1) Everyone should have the opportunity to achieve his or her maximum potential (2) Everyone should have the opportunity to share knowledge, express feelings and be heard (3) Everyone should actively participate in his or her own learning (4) All children should have access to a qual- ity education that encompasses a broad base of knowledge and experience (5) Children, families and educators must work in partnership to effectively support learning (6) Everyone should have access to a holistic communication system and technology is a tool that can enhance the communication and learning process
  • 5. 30YEARS OF HARD WORK 82CHILDREN LIFETIME- ENROLLED 2300+TEACHERS & THERAPISTS TRAINED 5CONTINENTS THE BRIDGE SCHOOL REPORT CARD = A+ 100%TRANSITION RATE Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, our educational program serves students with complex communication needs associated with severe speech and physical impairments. Stu- dents attend a 180-day regular school year program between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The length of the school day is dependent upon in- dividual students’ age and grade level. Our educational program is based on the prin- ciple of providing stu- dents with severe physical and speech impair- ments with the support needed to participate in age-appropriate curricular activities. We focus on supporting the language and communica- tion development of each of our students, with emphasis on developing augmentative and al- ternative communication (AAC) systems for each learner. The Bridge School educational program is designed to: (a) assist students in working towards communicative competence through the use of AAC systems and strate- gies; (b) provide students access to the general education curriculum through active participa- tion in all classroom activities; (c) maxi- mize each student’s educational potential by providing access to assistive technolo- gies for learning and literacy development; and (d) provide long- term, ongoing, indi- vidualized support to students and their ed- ucational teams in their home school districts. Two classrooms serve up to fourteen students each school year. All students have educational inclusion opportunities within an age-appropri- ate general education class on the shared North Elementary/Crocker Middle School campus. Our work and research in the Bay Area allows us to help thousands of children and profes- sionals over five continents. EDUCATION: A VOICE FOR EVERY CHILD
  • 6. What a wonderful blessing The Bridge School became to our family. Jet at- tended The Bridge School for five years in an environment tailored specifically to him, which allowed him to explore and learn and find his voice. The professionals at Bridge are amazing communication partners. Certainly one of the greatest benefits of Bridge stemmed from their belief in, “Walk- ing to learn,” a reversal of the familiar state- ment. The staff placed Jet in a KidWalk mo- bility device and he took to it like a duck to water. Not only had Jet found his voice at Bridge, but he discovered freedom of move- ment, he could decide which part of the class- room or playground to explore and go there on his own! An independent, mobile, determined, stubborn boy…what a wonderful thing. Jet especially liked being a teacher in the pio- neering community that traveled West in a cov- ered wagon. Cornbread with honey-butter at the Thanksgiving lunch. Playing instruments in a band with his friend Adam. Field trips to Curiodyssey, campus visits from the SF Zoo, planets and stars hanging from the ceiling dur- ing the study of the solar system, all en- couraged Jet’s love of science and the natu- ral world. My favorite moment was when Jet put his skills learned at Bridge together for a presentation to the second graders in his inclusion class at the elementary school next door. Jet, with as- sistance from his communication partner Katie, used his talking device to give a 10 minute talk about his love of bicycling to his downtown cof- fee shop. In addition to the report, he answered every question from his classmates. MEET JET: Today, Jet is enjoying being in a regular third grade class and using the Special Ed classroom as his “Resource Center,” with his technologies and other supports. The Bridge School can be a quiet place, which is perfect for focusing and learning to communicate. With that having been accomplished, Jet was ready for a noisy, wonderful educational experience on his neigh- borhood campus with kids from our commu- nity. Jet wakes up each day squirming with ex- citement. There are, of course, some instances of shyness as Jet tests the waters and learns to trust his skills and technologies among his new friends. But with each successful interaction his confidence grows, his circle of friends expands, and his world gets bigger. The Bridge School provided Jet and his family exactly what the name promises…a “bridge” back to his home community where Jet can utilize the skills taught at Bridge and more fully engage in the day to day flow of Willow Glen. And, fortunate- ly and comfortingly, we will always maintain a wonderful relationship with The Bridge School through the Transition Team who will always be with us, and through the friendships of the fam- ilies we met during our time at Bridge. I am so grateful to the staff and leadership at The Bridge School for providing my son Jet with “every op- portunity to succeed.” A LETTER FROM JET’S DAD
  • 7. The Bridge School is not designed to be a per- manent placement for any student. Central to the design of The Bridge School educational program is the goal to return students to their home school districts with documented multi- modal strategies and systems for communica- tion in place as well as documented strategies for academic and social participation. Through its Transition services, The Bridge School continues to provide long-term support to students who have graduated from our pro- gram and have returned to their home school districts. Planning for each student’s eventual return to his/her home school environment takes place from the very first Bridge School meeting. Families and staff work together to identify a set of future educational directions for each student. Potential future educational environments are considered throughout the time a student is in our program. In addition, a portfolio is developed for each student. This is a tool developed specifically to foster successful transitions of students who use AAC across educational settings. The portfolio contains a collection of educational documen- tation and video examples depicting effective, individualized teaching strategies in the areas of literacy, math, general knowledge and lan- guage development; effective communication modes, methods and strategies; recent work samples; assistive technology equipment infor- mation and resources. As the student develops his/her communication skills within The Bridge School environment, work also moves forward in the area of Transition. When we determine that a student is ready for transition, The Bridge School collaborates with the family and the stu- dent’s home school district to cooperatively plan for the transition. While at The Bridge School, each student spends a percentage of his or her day in a general education classroom environ- ment. Our partnership with the Hillsborough City School District gives each Bridge School student the opportunity to participate in class- rooms at North Elementary School and Crocker Middle School. We are committed to providing life-long support as our students graduate high school, and make college and career plans. TRANSITION: A PATH TO EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
  • 8. A recent graduate of UC Berkeley, April Tiana Bryant is busy preparing her State- ment of Purpose for grad school this year. With the excited energy of a typical student, April is hoping to pursue an advanced degree in Psy- chology at San Francisco State University. April’s journey began on the hospital ventilator after a difficult, dry-birth delivery. The doctors did not expect April to live past seven years. Despite incredible obstacles of her early child- hood, she eventually went on to study at The Bridge School, until she graduated in 1994. In addition to discovering her passion for learn- ing, April found purpose in helping minority communities through counseling: “I witnessed and felt a lot of suffering in my community, such as people not having access to food, people dying from gunshots, people not having enough clothes... . The fact that I had a good support system and excelled in my educa- tion, made me want to support kids of minor- ity groups so that they have the same support I had.” - April’s Statement of Purpose. April is currently a mentor at Girls Inc., a pro- gram that provides more than 140,000 girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique chal- lenges girls face. Their mission is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” Addition- ally, due to her wealth of experience working with youth, April was selected as a mentor in our Self-Determination Program. She has de- veloped a strong relationship with all of the students in the Self-Determination class, help- ing them in setting and achieving their personal goals. The Transition Team at The Bridge School is an important stepping stone for driven indi- viduals like April, providing guidance, staff, and resources to help make April’s aspirations a reality. April often references the teachings of W.E.B. Du Bois, an African American activist, when she speaks about the power of education. He once famously said, “Education must not simply teach work - it must teach Life.” This is arguably one of the most important jobs of The Bridge School Transition Team. MEET APRIL: U.C. BERKELEY GRADUATE
  • 9. Extracurricular activities extend the mission of The Bridge School by: (1) Promoting universal inclusion of chil- dren with severe speech and physical dis- abilities, (2) Positively influencing the future of these individuals, (3) Supporting the expansion of knowledge. Bridging Communities Through Alternative Communication (BCTAC) is a diverse group of people with unique abilities who come to- gether in social, educational and recreational activities to share experiences and ideas, col- laborate to plan meaningful events, and devel- op ways to raise awareness of individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communi- cation (AAC). BCTAC’s vision is to be a voice that reaches across communities. Members are committed to making a difference not only in their own lives, but also in the lives of other in- dividuals who use AAC. Members play a cen- tral role in designing, operating and monitoring the program and are dedicated to continuously building and expanding self-advocacy skills, self-awareness and self-determination. BC- TAC’s goal is for individuals who use AAC to have a place to meet friends, share stories and experiences, learn from each other and form a support network of people and resources. Our Building Bridges Camp and Training Insti- tute provides a camping experience for children between the ages of 5 and 17 who have physi- cal impairments and complex communication needs and offers training opportunities for adults who want to work with this population. Siblings are also welcome to attend camp and receive support as they connect with others. This week-long camp and training institute al- lows children to enjoy the activities associated with camp life, while developing and improving their communication skills using augmentative and alternative communication. Our Endow- ment Fund supports the creative experiences, community inclusion, field trips, and summer camp which make The Bridge School education so special. EXTRACURRICULAR: FUN IS FOR EVERYONE!
  • 10. What a special year this will be! School is back in session, and our kids know that true learning takes place both inside the class- room and outside in the community, making field trips and fun experiences the building blocks of learning how to communicate. Our kids are especial- ly looking forward to leading the Toys-4-Tots toy drive. Each year The Bridge School children raise money from gen- erous donors in Hills- borough and beyond. When they reach their donation goal, they make a trip to Target to buy toys that they drop off at the Hillsborough Fire Department Toys- 4-Tots donation bin later in the day. It’s a won- derful extracurricular activity that emphasizes learning to help those who are less fortunate, cultivating empathy, developing communica- tion and practicing self-determination. Another favorite activity around winter time is ice skating -- that’s right, ice skating! What a wonderful and magical day trip this has become over the last 30 years. One would think ice and wheels were made for one another. There is nothing more joyful than the freedom of independent move- ment, or as we say at The Bridge School “mobility matters.” Is there anything our students can’t do? We are only limited by our imaginations and the connections and resources to make these wonderful activities accessible. Our Ex- tracurricular Program is not yet endowed, but with the help of generous donors like you we are striving to make our extracurricular activi- ties a lasting legacy to all future children of The Bridge School. MEET OUR CLASSES: EDUCATION & COMMUNICATION
  • 11. GLOBAL IMPACT: RESEARCH & DISSEMINATION 5CONTINENTS 23COUNTRIES 5000+TEACHING HRS IN 2016 The International Teacher-in-Residence grant is a philanthropic award presented bi- annually to a professional from a country where training in the use of assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communica- tion (AAC) is limited. This program furthers The Bridge School’s mission of disseminating effective teaching and communication strat- egies to the global community by providing training and promoting skill development to an individual who is committed to disseminat- ing what they have learned during their year- long residency when they return to their home country. The specialty training opportunity at The Bridge School enables the individual to return to their country and promote the use of AAC for children/adults who are currently be- ing underserved. The residency is presented in collaboration with the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC). ISAAC is an international nonprofit organization made up of professionals, families, manufacturers, researchers and consumers, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for people with complex communication needs. It does this through research, education, network- ing and information dissemination. As of 2016, The Bridge School has hosted 9 Teachers-in-Residence from throughout the world. The impact they have had on the staff at The Bridge School and in their home coun- tries has been life changing. They have raised national awareness of the potential of students with severe physical impairments, changed the culture within their schools to embrace the use of augmentative and alternative communica- tion, worked tirelessly to support the enactment of legislation to enable students with special needs to have a quality educational experience, written books, published articles in national journals, given presentations at international conferences and, in short, are making the world a better place. Although our Global Outreach Program is not fully endowed, we are still able to make a sig- nificant impact in over 20 countries around the globe, teaching over 5,000 hours in 2016 alone.
  • 12. MEET ALA: VISIONARY EDUCATOR & LEADER Ala is a visionary educator and leader who is changing the culture of Poland. She partici- pated as an International Teacher-in-Residence pro- gram at The Bridge School in 2000-2001 and then re- turned to her school, Szkola Podstawowa Specjalna Nr 150, in Cracow. This educational institution was the first in Poland to leverage the use of augmenta- tive and alternative communication (AAC) and has taken a national and international leadership role in the education of children and adults who use AAC. Since her return, Ala’s work has exemplified the spirit of the Teacher-in-Residence program. She has expanded her professional network to include train- ing of approximately 2300 teachers and therapists throughout Poland and surrounding countries. Ala lectures at Universities in Cracow, Warsaw, Łodź, and Częstochowa and ha
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