City of Bridges High School
Educator and Learner Advocate
I love that we’re not afraid to make really radical changes in our plans to align with what our students need at any given moment.
FACTS & FIGURES
Young learners served in their first year
Young learners to be served in coming years
Universal Hospitality Tuition with 60+% of students receiving financial aid
Local professionals work with young learners
Community internships per young learner per year
City of Bridges High School, a holistic learning community in Pittsburgh, PA, was founded on the belief that learning should be dynamic, personalized, project-based, and relevant to what’s happening in the community and around the world.
City of Bridges is guided by five core values—mindfulness, knowledge, experience, justice, and community. Each value is weaved into every learning experience young learners pursue.
Mindfulness is intentionally practiced each morning through formal meditation and each afternoon when learners circle up and exchange expressions of gratitude with each other. This formal routine naturally introduces other core values. It builds the foundation for greater knowledge of self and establishes a rich, socially embedded culture where compassion for one another and a sense of community is always present.
City of Bridges’ community focus expands into the city of Pittsburgh itself through open-walled experiences that are supported by a variety of local professionals—attorneys, designers, veterinarians, photographers, museum curators, and others. These community connections enable flexible learning journeys for every young person.
Imagine a young learner admiring beautifully designed infographics and being inspired to explore the world of graphic design. At City of Bridges, this young learner can connect with a local graphic designer and naturally make his learning personalized, relevant and contextualized.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, this same learner could use their new skills to design infographics that showcased best health practices or the global prevalence and spread of the disease. In late May and into June 2020, when the world stood up to call for racial and social justice following the murder of George Floyd, several City of Bridges’ young learners marched in the streets. This same young learner who is exploring graphic design might continue exercising their sense of learner agency by taking on the challenge of creating printed signs that unify the City of Bridges protest participants with the entire advocacy community.
City of Bridges’ adaptability allows individual learners the opportunity to make their learning relevant to the “here and now” and enables the learning community to collectively respond to ground-shaking moments. For the final two weeks of the 2019-2020 academic year, in response to the young learners’ participation in the racial justice protests, City of Bridges leaders made an intentional shift to learn from voices of color and build their learning community’s collective awareness around the role race has played throughout American history (including today). Specifically, they inquired into what narratives have been silenced that we all need to amplify?
While making the world more just and peaceful is a fundamental tenet of City of Bridges—one that previously led to a full day of participation in climate change protests—their young learners’ ongoing activism has inspired educators to deepen their own thinking and take action to permanently integrate the amplification of marginalized stories throughout the learning experiences they provide
By remaining steadfast in their commitment to provide “real work, real compassion, and real learning” for the young people they serve, City of Bridges’ is designed to thrive no matter what unknowns are thrown their way. Their focus on “the self,” mindfulness, interconnectedness, and flexibility is a perfect example of what can happen when adults, young people, and communities are intertwined and committed to shared growth and creating a better world.
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