MAMIE D. LEE
Bridges serves students with a developmentally appropriate and family-centered approach that nurtures all students to expand their developmental skills in order to build a foundation for lifelong learning. Students with and without special needs share a school life in a setting where every detail is designed to include everyone.
For parents, this means their children with different needs can attend school in an inclusive environment. For students it means they can learn from each other. “I think they are having a really profound experience about acceptance and diversity,” says Olivia Smith, Founder and Director. “Besides having this plan to have children with and without special needs, we’re actually an incredibly culturally and racially diverse school. We’ve been that way since we opened more than 10 years ago.”
Smith says moving into the new building has had a profound effect. Before the move she says, “the school was spread across three locations in varying states of age and condition. Many of the classrooms didn’t have windows or badly aged windows, so having bright sunlight is pretty amazing. Having a space that is warm and dry and adds shine and glow around what’s happening as opposed to things falling apart as in buildings of the past.”
“My superheroes are the kids who come through the doors and the community that they’re creating. In the morning time when people come into our building it is a really a joyous time. We have eight buses and a stream of cars that come in. It involves a lot of adults greeting and getting kids off the buses and out of the cars, but all those hands are really joyous and the faces are really joyous. And that’s a really positive thing to see, the flooding in of the 328 kids and their adults, and that says we’re doing the right thing.”