SFHS Freshman Bridge Program

In the fall of 2013 and 2014, Santa Fe High School (where I taught math) piloted a ‘bridge program’ which was designed to assist incoming Freshmen make the transition to high school more smoothly. The events were each 1 week long, and they occurred the week prior to school starting, i.e., a voluntary bridge program for students to warm up to high school learning culture. It was a team effort whereby teachers and thought partners from community organizations partnered together and made a program that covered issues such as but not exclusive to:

  • Organization & Life Skills for High School (AVID, Binders, Note Taking, Technology Deep Dives etc.)
  • Relationship Building (Whole Group Ice Breakers, Identity Discussions)
  • Club/Sports/Activities Introductions (Rocket Club demo, Cheerleader Performance, Visiting Coaches)
  • Campus/Procedure Familiarity (School Tours, Open Discussions about Grades, Electives, etc.)

The first summer went smoothly, and numbers were good and manageable. The second summer we were overwhelmed with more students than we expected and a staff that lost 1 member weeks before we began. It was still largely positive, but certainly had its bad moments where teachers (me included) were basically talking loudly at overfilled rooms of students, with little or no way to engage them in paired activities due to sheer volume of participants and the time constraints that were pushed on by that increase in volume. Overall, however, great concept and lots of good work that took place during these events.

My only regret is that the administrative team did little to monitor these students separately in years ahead and in order to control for whether bridge significantly impacted student learning and/or graduation rates. If I was to do this again, I would make sure to have a longitudinal data analysis plan. In 2014, we published newsletters via email to the parents/students and other involved community, including board members and we also had some Flickr albums. In 2013, we only sent out email announcements including links to Flickr albums showing student experiences:

Newsletters 2014
Flickr Albums 2013-2014 [In Progress]

A team of us also presented on our work to the SF Public Schools school board each fall, and we have videos and resources of those presentations available upon request.

Funny Note: It should properly be called “Freshman Bridge,” like Tea House or Coffee Shop, etc., as we don’t pluralize nominatives when talking about the totality of something or some community. However, despite pointing this out, my Supervisor insisted I was wrong so it was pluralized to freshmen in the official docs!

jonathan Written by:

Santa Fe area Math and CS teacher; class archives, instructional techniques, and musings on educational leadership.

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