Hear from Elaine Roper about leading students to success at The Bridge Academy.
I believe this is where I will be most effective in creating change. The Bridge Academy focuses on creating pathways to success for each of our students.
I teach because I want to represent African-Americans in the field of education. It is important for students of color to see themselves represented in the people who teach them.
New Teacher Starting Salary
The Bridge Academy was founded in 1997. We serve 280 students in grades 7 through 12. Our mission is to support students in their academic and social/emotional learning in order to prepare them for successful and happy futures. Toward this end, every day at Bridge Academy begins with a Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) in which students greet each other, share something about themselves and play a game. CPR time gives our students practice at important social skills such as cooperation, responsibility and self-control in a safe, structured environment.
We work to meet our students’ academic needs by emphasizing progress in reading skills: for example, all students participate in our Independent Reading program, and all classes prioritize the use of grade-level complex text for all readers. In addition, every middle school student and struggling ninth grade reader receive an hour of small guided-reading group instruction every day. To support math skills, every math class has two certified math instructors to insure students receive the support they need.
All 12th-graders complete a unique Senior Project program in which they choose a topic of interest to them, research that topic, write a paper, and create a presentation that they deliver to a group of ten to twelve community members in the spring. We also support families through every step of the college application process, from writing the Common Application essay to completing the FAFSA. As a result of these efforts, 100 percent of our seniors are accepted to college each year.
Bridge Academy works hard to create a positive culture and climate for both staff and students. We recognize that the job of an educator can be challenging, so we work to create a place where people feel supported and safe. For example, we begin every staff meeting with either a Circle of Power and Respect or a Restorative Circle of Courage. The goal of both is to get people talking and connecting in a positive way.
In addition to our climate work, the school offers multiple leadership opportunities. Staff are invited to be part of our interview and hiring process; are encouraged and paid to write their own curricula; are given stipends for everything from technology oversight to grant-writing; are encouraged and paid to create and run after school programs; and are given seats on both our Executive and Governing Boards. Teachers at Bridge are treated as professionals and given autonomy over their classrooms, and are encouraged to create curricula that they feel will best engage and instruct their students while meeting the rigor of the Common Core Standards.
Finally, our most recent Staff School Climate Survey indicates a high level of job satisfaction at Bridge: 100 percent of staff agreed or strongly agreed that “I feel like I am part of this school’s community"; 100 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “teachers in this school support each other”; and 95 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “staff morale is high at this school."
The Bridge Academy follows the Bridgeport Board of Education salary scale for teachers. We offer a competitive HSA insurance account and award an $8,000 stipend to any staff member who takes the insurance of a spouse or parent.
We pay staff for running after-school programs and for chaperoning such functions as school dances. We also offer stipends for such things as overseeing technology, maintaining our website and grant writing. In addition, we pay staff to come to Bridge to attend professional development workshops and to plan and write curriculum over the summer.
For many years, Bridge Academy teachers have served as cooperating teachers for those doing their student teaching. All staff, from student teachers to paraprofessionals and substitutes, are included in all meetings and professional development opportunities.
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