On Thursday, July 26, 2012 we took a break from the five
long weeks of reading, writing, and problem solving. The highly anticipated
Raging Waters trip was under way, and the kids all piled on to the bus at 9:00
in the morning. Since there were over 60 kids and nine TAs, constant TA
supervision was not at all possible. Luckily the water park is not that large
so our check-in spot was not far from any of the rides. In order to keep kids
from getting lost or injured, the buddy system was put into effect. Each
scholar athlete paired up with his or her best friend or found a group of
friends to share the day with.
As it turned out, banding together with your best buds is the perfect way to try new
things and face your fears. I certainly experienced this feeling when a group
of 7th graders kept encouraging me to join them on the newest
addition to the park, Bombs Away!
Last year I did not have the courage to even walk up the stairs to this slide.
Complete with a fully enclosed tube, a fifteen-foot drop, and speeds up to 20
mph, this ride just seemed too dangerous for me. I felt bad about disappointing
them this time so I joined them on their journey. As we neared the starting
capsule with the trap-floor, I realized that I wasn't just tackling this slide
for the 7th grader's sake, I really wanted to face my fear of this
ride and come out of the blue and black tunnel with a sense of accomplishment.
At the end of ride we all celebrated and high-fived each other.
Throughout the rest of the day the scholar athletes went down every slide they could. The weather could not have been better, as it was not to hot but not too cold. I
was very happy to see that each kid made it to the 1:30 checkpoint and boarded
the bus on time ready to leave the park. One of the kids remarked, "The three
and a half hours was the perfect amount of time at Raging waters, because now I
am too tired too go on any more rides". Certainly exhausted, I could not agree
A final Word from Castilleja Site Director Mary Hurlbut
The Peninsula Bridge Program at Castilleja concluded with a
lovely End of Summer Celebration. Directed and produced by the Peninsula Bridge
TAs (who managed lighting, stage direction, costuming, choreography and program
details), the rising fifth grade Bridge girls lit up the stage with fabulous
dance, poetry, and singing performances. The profusion of thank you's, and the
flood of tears and hugs at the end of the event were testament to the strong
bonds established throughout the short five weeks.
summer is quickly ending while the Peninsula Bridge's Woodside Priory Program
has been coming to a close. During the last few days of Bridge the kids have
taken their last few tests, showing how much they have learned in just a couple
of weeks. On Thursday the kids went on a field trip to the Exploratorium in San
Francisco. This trip was related to the students' art class because they have
been learning about illusions for a couple weeks. The kids loved the exhibits
and at lunch we had a small picnic near the golden gate bridge.
As the beginning of the fifth week
started the thought that ran through my mind was: "How am I going to feel after
I leave these kids?" When we first started Bridge I looked at the kids, and I
never could have imagined that I would feel this sad at the end of the end of
the program. I have made so many relationships with these kids, and now I can't
imagine my summer without them.
Hi my name is Laura, I am not only a T. A for the Bridge
Program but I am also an alumni of Bridge. As an alumnus I have been able to
see the radical changes from the Bridge program that I went through to the
Bridge program I am now a T.A. for. The biggest change, I have to say, is the
inclusion of the health and nutrition class. I have been a T.A. in that class
for three years now. I have always had the opportunity to see how much
enjoyment the children get from participating in the labs and learning in this
The Castilleja Bridge Program will be celebrating its first
ever Spirit Week. Today we celebrated Halloween in July. Students wore costumes
such as bumblebees, fairies, and the hulk. Miriam M. stated, "The most fun part
of Halloween in July was getting to see a lot of people dress up with different
costumes that I hadn't seen before".
Katie C., a TA at Castilleja, went all out by wearing a royal outfit,
faux powdered wig included. Her enthusiasm toward the spirit day inspired the
girls to try even harder for the next spirit days.
Week 4 at the Sacred Heart campus has been one of my
favorites. The kids are becoming
increasingly proficient in math and English. Being a math Teachers Assistant, I
really enjoy seeing the children make presentations and other various projects. One, for example, we were split into three
groups of five kids and a TA and we "went on" our dream
vacation. We had an unlimited budget,
and we were able to choose wherever we wanted to go, as long as we made sure to
account for every detail on the trip.
The kids loved this project and it forced them to expose their
creativity and presentation skills.
The students had a busy, yet exciting, fourth week. In math
class, they just finished learning how to convert fractions into decimals and
decimals into percentages. Many of them were really into these lessons and
cited that it was their favorite lesson so far. Hard to believe, but true! In their English class, they have learned 40
new vocabulary words and are half-way through the book "Holes" by
Louis Sachar. They really enjoy reading the book in small groups and discussing
about what they have read. They also seem to enjoy their afternoon electives:
field hockey, science, arts & crafts and study skills.
This past Friday, the students took an exciting field trip
to Shoreline Park. The students were involved in many activities like a nature
scavenger hunt and a tour of the Rengstorff House. The history of the home and
the park captured all of the students' attention and they were all amazed by
how much history there was in Mountain View. This trip not only kept the
students' interest piqued, but it also taught them a lot about the city they
all live in. The docents at Shoreline
Park did a great job designing age-appropriate activities for the students.
"Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." - Clement Clarke Moore
The room was silent. There was no noise. To my surprise, all
the girls and boys were reading silently while walking up the stairs, the cool
breeze from the air vents relieving them of the heat. The students stayed in
their seats constantly smiling as they continued to read far past what was
required for the assignment that day. The sun shining down on their faces, they
continued to embark on their wondrous journey at recess. At the end of the day
they maintained those same bright smiles. They were even somewhat sad because
they had no homework, because they had already completed it during the day. It
may not have been Christmas, but we enjoy giving the students the gift of
knowledge. The students continue to look forward to a different gift each day,
reminding us that it is better to give than to receive.
The Woodside Priory campus finally had a guest speaker to
talk to the students. Students were excited to find out what this speaker had
to say. Kids would ask TA's over and over, who the speaker was and what the he
would say? However the only answer they received about the speaker was that he
ran marathons and ran one in Antarctica.
Last Friday the Crystal site had the pleasure of visiting
seven unique companies across the bay area. The companies varied from
technological giants such as Microsoft or Genentech to local law firms to TV
stations. All the students had a blast and couldn't wait to tell their friends
about their amazing experiences.
This third week of Bridge has been the best thus far,
although it has been the most tiring. I would not change a thing. During
Enrichment, it's "Dance Week," so I teach dance to four classes a day and then
one math class. The Math teacher is supportive of this program and allows me to
teach the kids. I started this program last year and I am so proud of how far
it has come. The students, especially the boy classes, jumped right into the
warm ups, across the floors, and the dance routine. Their eagerness to move and
follow my lead in stretching has really inspired me. Dance is such a big part
of my life and being able to share my passion with the students and have them
pick up the choreography and attempt the stretches is rewarding. Music is one
of my happy places; helping to understand life, and always being there whenever
I doubt what is good and this week has just shown me how much I have in common
with the students. Music has brought us even closer together as most the girls
lips sing or actually hum the words of the songs together during class.
The third week at the Sacred Heart campus was
exciting for many reasons! First of all, tours of the campus took place.
This was a chance for student's parents to see what was happening inside
and outside of the classroom. The kids were extremely well behaved, and I
was very proud to see them working hard and showing their parents their
At the Woodside Priory campus the Bridge
students have been having fun all week. To
change things up a little bit, we were able to provide a field trip to Windy
Hill for a hike. It all happened because of a raffle, that we won, which
provided a free bus for the day. The kids were excited upon arrival. During the
first week of bridge one of the students, Wesley, saw the huge scenery from our
dining hall and asked, "Are we be able to hike that?" Having just one kid be
able to hike this huge hill was satisfying, but having all the other students finish
the hike was much more.
triumphant chant could be heard by the lucky eleven who finally joined the
illustrious 15,000 Step Club on Wednesday afternoon. Hard to even fathom, the
insane amount of steps seemed impossible to achieve just three weeks ago. Yet
through hard work and some extremely intense walking, many students have found
it possible to walk 15,000 steps in a single day. Some even opt out of their
beloved soccer games at lunch to run around the field, striving for more steps.
Now that's dedication.
Sometime in the whirlwind of
grammar, vocabulary and literature that middle school students are faced with
today, I think they can lose sight of just how enjoyable writing can be. One of
my favorite things about Peninsula Bridge is that since we do not follow a
traditional curriculum, we can instill that love of the English language into
them before they go to high school.
When I arrived at Peninsula Bridge yesterday, I felt like
James Bond--the combination of my dark suit and reflective aviators gave me the
swagger of an invincible secret agent. I
strode through campus, feeling like the king of the world, until my cool veneer
was temporarily shaken by the sudden and unexpected appearance of a large,
This past Thursday the girls visited the Asian Art Museum in
San Francisco. The girls enjoyed looking through the exhibits which included
Phantoms of Asia and collections of art from China, Japan and India. The TAs
planned a scavenger hunt with the winner being the group that had the most
detailed drawings of the artwork they were supposed to find. The girls had to
draw pictures of the hybrid statues they saw as well as keep track of all of
the different animals.
Week two has gone by
fast. Every morning when the bus drops off all the kids they scatter at the
breakfast table. When they get to the breakfast table kids ask, "What are we
having today?" or just say a simple thank you. We could also overhear what the
kids think of the food and how good the compliments are, it's a joy to see
everything gone by the end of the morning. We are glad to have this new
breakfast program established at the Priory campus.
first year out of my four, I am not in a classroom this year. Upon first
realizing this, I was concerned that my relationship with the kids might be
affected since I would only be spending time with them in the second half of
the day. However, they all embraced me with open arms--literally!
The Sacred Heart Campus has had much excitement this past
week between starting afternoon electives, having two guest speakers, and
celebrating the Fourth of July! Each student was able to choose two electives
they want to participate in the afternoon for the next few weeks. The options include swimming, arts and
crafts, basketball, robotics, nutrition, soccer, and media. I have had the pleasure of playing basketball
with twelve of the students. The
children adore playing the sport, and many choose to do it all throughout lunch
"What you don't realize, is that you are living in them most
innovative place since Italy during the Renaissance," Mort Grosser, a
co-creator of the Gossamer Single Engine Plane told Pinewoods' bridge students.
For the past two weeks, we were honored to welcome
Mort Grosser to the Pinewood Site, to speak to our students about the
importance of innovation, and the keys to how to succeed at it. Grosser
explored a number of topics, discussing everything from ballet, to flight, to
the physics of the atom and of course his own innovations. Grosser though
emphasized one element of innovation in particular: The question "why not?" He
made the students promise to him that they would not be hesitant and keep
asking "why?" but instead why not. This struck a chord with the students who
would use this phrase throughout the week.
I was originally planning to do bridge solely for the sake
of making money, so, after being notiﬁed that I would not be getting a paid
position I was reluctant to accept the available volunteering position. Yet
after thinking it over, I had a moment of clarity when I realized that I would
much rather work out of charity and goodwill than for the money and accepted
the volunteering position. It's only been two weeks into the program and I
already feel like being a part of Peninsula has been entirely worth my time. I
was in the same boat that these children were when I was their age. I know what
it's like to come from an under resourced home and school, so reaching out to
them is a personal obligation that drives me and keeps me motivated every day.
The saying "time
flies when you're having fun" rings very true for our experience here at the
Crystal site. It's already been eleven days since the opening ceremonies but I
still remember our trip to Sacred Heart like it was yesterday. Although this is
my first year as a TA, I feel as though I've known the students for much
longer. It's been great bonding and getting to know all of the students while
we play Bridge Ball, crack jokes during lunch, or just lounge on the field. It's not all fun and games here at the Crystal site however, our students have mastered
the balance between work and play. Within the past two weeks, there has been
substantial amount of development in the students. On the first day of classes,
the students were shy and hesitant to raise their hand when asked questions in
class but this week during our flex periods, we coordinated a trivia bowl where
the students confidently exhibited their extensive knowledge on a variety of
topics ranging from Science to Pop Culture.
What is poetry? The students at Castilleja Bridge answered
this question in today's Language Arts class. Students read from a poetry book,
which included poems from great writers such as Shel Silverstein, Langston
Hughes and Billy Collins. The girls took turns sharing what they noticed about
poems. They learned that poems can have similes, rhymes, and emotions. Today
the students read a poem about feeling sick. The students then wrote their own
poem about a feeling using their five senses. Feelings included love,
happiness, curiosity and enthusiasm. The girls learned how adjectives and
adverbs could make more descriptive statements. They came up with phrases like
"[Adventure] sounds like roaring lions" wrote Anna D. and Evelin R. wrote
"[Kindness] smells like baked brownies."
Week two has been all about learning something new about
each other. I have especially enjoyed seeing how the students have become so
welcoming and caring towards one another; I never see a child left out. The 6th graders are (surprisingly!)
very nice to our 5th graders and don't mind spending time with them. It is so sweet to see them together. It also
makes it easier for us as TA's to plan activities for all of the students because
we know they will cooperate with each other.
Greetings from the Sacred Heart Bridge Campus! It was at the Olympics Event held on our
campus when I was initially introduced to my group of fifteen incoming fifth
grade boys. My fellow TAs and I have
constantly raved about how wonderful and eager the children are. I am so excited and look forward to embarking
on this exciting, fun-filled summer.
Immediately greeted by smiles and accompanied in laughter, I had no
doubt this would be an amazing experience.
If spirit is the name of the game then the atmosphere at
Crystal Springs Uplands School is the perfect setting for the 7th and 8th
graders at Peninsula Bridge to go all out. As a Teaching Assistant I can
clearly see that the kids here at CSUS have arrived with an unprecedented
amount of excitement and readiness to learn.
The kids have been waiting all year, and now the Bridge
Program has begun. On their first step onto the Priory grounds I could tell
that the kids were curious of what their summer would be like. Everyone soon
piled up to listen to the first announcements from their new Priory Bridge
director, Mr. Lavalle. They all learned about what they would be doing this
summer. The kids were also introduced to their teachers, their classes, and
even the TA's they would be with for the summer. Although the most exciting
part of the announcements was finding out that each kid was split up into one
of eight countries competing against one another for a gold, silver, or bronze
medals because of this year's summer Olympics. The kids lit up when they heard
prizes would be involved with the first three teams with the most medals.
This week, the St. Matthew's Bridge students sprinted off
their starting blocks with a bang! Given the Olympic theme, they entered the
campus to be greeted by our world flags and a bus bringing them to their
Opening Ceremonies. Nervous, giddy, first-day-of-school laughing aside, all the
students agreed on one thing: this summer was going to be "awesome"!
When our site director addressed the kids during lunch and
asked if anyone had any comments about their family lunch groups or the TAs, a
kid in my group quickly nudged the guy next to him and whispered, "Raise your hand
and say that Kathy is awesome!" I've been a TA at the Menlo site for the past
three years, but comments like this one still warm my heart every time. This
summer is especially interesting for me because I'm back at Bridge after my
first year of college. Coming back, I was so excited to return to a program
that has influenced my life quite greatly these past few years, from showing me
that I want to go into education as an adult to getting letters of
recommendation for other programs from the wonderful teachers and directors.
This week at the Castilleja Peninsula Bridge site we began
our walk to London in celebration of the Olympics. On Monday our fifth grade
girls cheered with excitement at the news that the Bridge Program would be
walking to London. The stories told by the Olympians inspired them to always
try their hardest in order to succeed in achieving their dreams. As soon as we
arrived back on campus all of the girls received a brand new Peninsula Bridge
Pedometer. The girls immediately began to walk and run around campus. They
eagerly shared the number of steps they had taken. Every day we recorded the
amount of steps taken by all of the girls. This past Thursday we calculated how
many steps our site had taken on that day. The total amount was 83, 293 steps
which is about 20 miles. The girls learned to value how much hard work and
perseverance it takes for an olympian to reach the Olympics.
The walk to London has begun! The students have enjoyed
their first week with the program and they are looking forward to the rest of
the weeks. This first week has been full of activities to get the students
familiar with each other, enthusiastic about learning, and get their pedometers
going! Relationships between teachers,
TA's, and students are blooming. Everyone is looking forward to these next 4 weeks.
At St. Matthew's Bridge program students raise their hands in excitement, yelling that every problem has a solution and one small action can make a big difference! All 23 fifth grade students come into the classroom workbook in hand, smiling and eagerly asking what is on the agenda today. Our ONE HEN program teaches students about microfinance and how to run a business. The program starts with students reading "One Hen", which is about a boy named Kojo and how with one small loan he was able to change the lives of everyone in his village. Towards the end of the program students create their own businesses, and apply the concepts of profit, revenue, and cost. These businesses earn actual profits that are donated to the charitable organization of their choice.
my name is Laura Alvarez and I am currently a student at Menlo School. I'm
going to be a senior next year and am really excited about all the fun that
awaits me for this upcoming year. I'm a Bridge alum and have been a T.A at the
Menlo Bridge site for three years. I really love this program and it has really
impacted my life.
One of the most memorable moments of my experience as a Bridge student
was definitely my first day. I remember that I was nervous and excited because
I didn't know what to expect. So many questions ran through my head like would
the teachers be nice, how would the environment be like, and would I like my
classes? When I arrived at Menlo I realized that all the worries I had were silly
because the Bridge TAs and staff that came to greet us were really nice and
fun. They made every moment as fun as possible and kicked the day off with an
orientation on the grass field. We played all sorts of trust games that helped us
bond with the TAs as well as with the other students. We finished the day with
a BBQ and more field games. For me, the first day really tells you what the
summer will be like and I found the first day to be awesome and I knew that the
summer would be fantastic.
Students knew from the start that they had a
challenging week coming their way. Although students showed signs of wear from
the extension of the school year Bridge provides, a good hearty talk from our Director,
Mr. LaValle, created the encouragement needed to sprint to the finish line.
Emotions have been stirring up in anticipation
of the upcoming graduation. The Staff has been finalizing the details for next
week while students are still engaging in activities outside and inside the
classroom. Students have become more aware of the opportunities provided by the
Bridge program and have grown thirsty for the sweet taste of change - change
that can only be brought on by their own individual efforts and desire to
prosper. Much of their desire to change has developed from having the Teacher
Assistants as positive role models.
"I MISSED YOU SOOO MUCH THIS WEEKEND!"-This was
the warm greeting I received upon walking into St. Matthew's Tuesday morning,
followed by never-ending hugs. Being our third week of the program, the kids
are now officially 'Bridgers', as our site director Mr. Gummerson would say.
Helping the kids make new friends had been our primary goals, and it is
fulfilling to see that this goal has become a reality. Not only are they
sitting with new friends at lunch and playing together at recess, but the kids
also exude a new confidence that had not been as prominent in the past weeks.
This week we started the process of making key chains!
The kids were given a 10 Dollar loan (fake money) and they purchased an
assortment of neon, sparkly, and metallic beads. The purpose of purchasing
these beads is to sell them for real money in order to pay back their loans and
teach them about saving and profiting. However, more importantly, it serves as
a way to teach them about teamwork and how to make business decisions since each
team chooses an organization to donate a portion of their proceeds.
Three cheers for the red, white, and
blue AND for Bridge as it reaches its important halfway point. A day was lost
due to the excitement of fire cracking shows in celebration of the 4th
of July. The day, however, will be made up by a night, a night known as Back to
Bridge Night. The challenge for this week has been to keep the momentum going
strong to put on a good show for the parents and guests.
There has been considerable build up
for Thursday night since it will be the first major event for this program this
year. Some of the preparations in the office have included making newsletters
to inform the students' parents of the upcoming events, organizing groups to
cycle through classrooms, and synchronizing all staff members. Future events
include the final assessment test, Field Day, a Mystery Field Trip, and
Hi all! My name is Liz Wiggans, and
this is my second year as a 7th grade English TA. When I am not
working for the Bridge Program, I am a junior at Santa Clara University.
summer, I have found that the amount of care and thought my students put into
each task provides a great example for the rest of us. It is a cyclical impetus
for the TAs, teachers and other students. The energy we draw from each other is
It's hard to believe that three weeks of
Peninsula Bridge have already gone by. As a returning TA, I've had a ton of fun
reuniting with past students, as well as meeting all of the new students. These
three weeks have been a whirlwind of class chants (Stanford vs. Cal), advisory
dances, University Day, Back-to-Bridge Night, bridge building with DPR, and
Career Day. The event I'd like to focus on for this blog entry is the bridge
building with DPR Construction, a tradition that all of the eighth graders participated
in on Wednesday and Thursday. Armed with just Popsicle sticks and hot-glue
guns, the eighth graders divided into groups and set off on building the best
bridges they could. The challenge was to build a bridge that could withstand
This week the girls had fun on field trips and
enjoyed other fun activities! We started off the week with our field trip to
the Tech Museum. This was a special field trip because it was a joint trip
between the Castilleja and Saint Joseph's Bridge sites. It was an absolute
blast! At the tech the girls participated in fun engineering activities,
explored the museum, and watched Born to
be Wild in the IMAX. It was an amazing day and by the time we got home the
girls were tired and ready to go home.
The week got more exciting with the DPR
engineering bridge building activities. For two days the girls were challenged
to construct bridges out of popsicle sticks and glue. After the bridges were
built we tested them with water weights to see which bridges were successful
and which needed more help. Amazingly the majority of the girls' bridges
had some strange weather here during this second week. It was completely cloudy
on Tuesday and just after snack time some of the TAs and I pushed all the
tables inside. Just before lunchtime it started to pour! Of course, the
students did not see the rain as hindering their playtime but as something else
to play with. For most of the students however, we turned on a movie at lunch
and they all gathered around at the rare event.
favorite lunchtime activity by far is sitting with my family group: talking,
laughing, joking and of course eating. It is so wonderful to hear them talk so
excitedly about their classes, to see them run up to me with a question, a
secret, or just a 'hello.' It was so hard to get them to talk the first few
days because they were quiet and needed some time to adjust. Although it is
only the second week, they are already bursting with conversation and
enthusiasm about their favorite classes.
As I write this blog entry, I'm sitting
in the bleachers of the Crystal Springs gym, trying in vain to focus over the
deafening roar of the seventh and eighth graders; they're playing a heated game
of Bridge Ball (our version of dodgeball), and class spirit is running high. Indeed,
this past week has witnessed a remarkable increase in class enthusiasm. They
cheer wildly during rock, paper, scissors tournaments. They chant during
capture the flag. They even compete during the bizarre game known as
twist-turn-twizzle. In short, both the seventh and eighth graders have been
brimming with passion and a friendly competitive spirit. The energy is
contagious, and as I write this, I'm itching to get into the game to help my
It has been said that change is natural, making
it the only certainty. That certainly held true for the second week of Bridge
at Woodside Priory. The weather surprised us all, as the sunshine that surpassed
90 degrees became rain showers similar to those typical during March.
Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the students flourished as the group's unity
expanded and solidified.
After completing their first week, the students
showed greater harmony not only among themselves, but also with the teachers and
assistants. Their bond is being bolted together by the lessons learned in their
classrooms. Mr. Nelson's "lemon drop" exercise serves as an excellent example.
In this activity students were given a lemon to carefully examine. They then
had to identify their lemon when it was combined with the rest of the students'
lemon. After being tested and succeeding
at identifying their respective lemon, they were then instructed to peel it and
identify it once more. The lesson was that although lemons appear different on
the outside, the insides are fairly similar. The recognition of each other's
similarities has been embedded within the minds of the students allowing them
be enthused about the time spent together.
The first week at Peninsula Bridge I did not
know what to expect. I do not have any younger siblings since I am the youngest
in my family. My idea of dealing with younger kids has been shaped by
babysitting my 6-year-old nephew and my niece who just turned 1.All I had left to offer as a student
myself was to incorporate that and be able to meet their needs as a TA. This
has worked out well and the students have been respectful whenever I need their
attention, but also know that I can play with them and have fun. They have
grown as individuals in and out of the classroom and have helped me grow as
well. For this reason, I've realized that this summer my goal is to have the
kids acknowledge that they too can be role models themselves because throughout
the week that is the way I see them- as my role models.
and some of the TAs are teaching the dance from the 'Move Your Body, Beyoncé
Workout' during enrichment classes. The students are having a great time
getting energized and dancing. I have only been present for two of the classes
so far and I have to say that it is so much fun to watch! I love to dance with
them! Everyone gets into it. The TAs love it, the kids get to move and get
their energy out and watch their mentors and friends have fun with them. I was
able to record the practice during class and their last run through. They
improved dramatically throughout the period! At first they were shy but by the
end of the period they were doing the 'dougie' (which is one of the dance
moves) like pros.
The doors have opened and the students are eager. The teachers and
the teacher aides are excited. Welcome to Peninsula Bridge at Crystal Springs! Here at Crystal Springs, students have the experience of
expanding their math and English knowledge as well as exploring other classes
such as science, French, and Card games. Students get the chance to expand
their learning and have fun at the same time in an old but beautiful mansion.
As a teacher's aide for the seventh grade English class, I get to
see what book they are reading. This year they are working on a novel calledSo B. It,by Susan Weeks. The story is about
a young girl named Heidi who lives with her retarded mother and agoraphobic
neighbor, Bernadette. However, Heidi does not know much about her life: her
father, her last name, or even her mother's name. Thus a quest arises for Heidi
to find out more about her past, as well as the history of her mother. This
book demonstrates how even though people have differences; it does not make
them completely different from another person.
This week was the first week of Bridge at Casti
and everyone was so excited! We got to know the girls on a personal level
through the many fun activities we offer. We started off the week by breaking
up into our advisories and getting to know the girls. We divide the girls into
7 groups of 4 or 5, and each TA advises a group for the 5 weeks of Bridge.
We immediately dove into enrichment modules such
as Health and Wellness and Gardening. The hands on activities really let the
girls explore their creativity and allow them to get to know each other even more.
As the week continued, the girls were also able to enjoy other activities such
as Drama, Art, and Science. Creating heart maps in art, learning about plants
and nature in science, and participating in fun games and activities in drama
not only brought the girls closer together, but also the TA's. During break and
game, time the girls enjoyed playing games they had learned in drama- especially
Jell-O and Charades.
Going into Bridge, I
thought I wanted to be involved in the program to help young students along the
path of their educational careers.I started by teaching new strategies in mathematics for the
soon-to-be-fifth-graders nervous about adding and subtracting fractions. It wasn't long before I realized that Bridge
is about so much more than what happens in the classroom. Every kid here looks
up to every one of his or her TAs.Whether we're playing a silly game at 8:00 am to wake us up, discussing
the philosophical weight of a novel, illustrating our own short-story
creations, or running around capturing flags under the hot afternoon sun- they
look at us with open eyes and open hearts.I expected this to some degree--that's what I thought was so
special about the TA position. However, I don't think I could say that I expected
to be looking up to these kids in the same way they look up to us.They participate in every activity with
a genuine excitement that inspires me to stretch to new levels of enthusiasm I
never thought possible.
After one week I
am exhausted. The energy never seems to run out at bridge, especially during
the first week! The fifth graders have been amazing both in and out of the
classroom. This Friday we had our annual fifth grade scavenger hunt where small
groups led by a TA ran all over the campus to take pictures of various objects.
Omar said, "It was the best day ever!" Meanwhile, the seventh graders had the
author of their summer reading books, Gary Soto, come talk to them about their
book. It was an exciting day all around the Sacred Heart site!
This week was an
incredible start to the bridge program and the best in my five years. The kids
are excited to learn and even more excited to play. The first week is always
chaotic but filled with excitement and wonder. I feel like we have already been
together for five weeks but it has only been five days and I already know every
fifth grader's name! This is huge for me because I am horrible at remembering
The Bridge Program
began with an additional challenge since the sun decided to greet the students
with a mighty hello. Temperatures neared triple digits and created an unintentional
test of will, which the students proved to have despite energy depleting
The sage and loving
aura created by the staff has led the kids to see through the tough heat and
greet new experiences with open minds. This was the case in the 5th
period elective Team Building &
Retreat. A new student joined the group by the name of Duy. Initially he
dismissed the pleas of the Teacher Assistants to participate. Students, having already
had a chance to warm up to each other, transmitted their confidence to Duy. It
wasn't long before he joined a group and began conversing with his classmates.
It has been a great summer working with the students at the
Crystal Springs site for Peninsula Bridge. We have had a lot of fun. The
students got to improve their math and language arts skills, while also getting
experience fun electives and field trips. One of the most exciting moments this
year was going to Raging Waters and Great America with the students last week.
The 7th grade students had fun slipping and sliding at Raging Waters, while the
8th grade students were screaming their heads off on the roller coasters at
Great America. Both grades enjoyed the field trips, as well as the TAs.
This is the final week of Peninsula
Summer Bridge 2010 at Menlo School and it has been filled with activities of
all sorts. On Wednesday, we had a 'Celebration of Learning' event, during which
parents were invited and there was a slideshow and, most notably, a talent
show. A large majority of the students participated and everyone had fun.
Instead of reviewing the activities of the final week of Peninsula
Bridge, I am compelled to reflect on the entire last 5 weeks. From the first
day of staff training, I was immediately struck by the enthusiasm, motivation,
and passion of my fellow TAs. Site Director, Brendan Gummerson, set the bar
high from the moment we walked in the room. However, what has truly separated Peninsula
Bridge from other programs and summer camps I have worked for in the past are
the kids themselves.
I cannot believe that Peninsula Bridge is almost over! We've
had such a jam-packed week here at Castilleja that I did not even remember that
it was our last week until the TA's began to discuss our family & friends
day, which occurs on the final day of the program. Now, on Friday morning, the
reality of the end is blunt and sad, yet sprinkled with a sense of
accomplishment. I know that the other TA's and I, as well as our wonderful
teachers, have given our 31 girls a great summer and a strong foundation for
Peninsula Bridge is one big production and the
kids are the entertainers. Every day I come to Peninsula Bridge as an excited
audience member encouraging the children to do their best.
In English class, I watch them write and perform
their very own skits and help them in the process by making props. They are
writing these skits to show their understanding of the reading and to address the
problems with bullying and name calling.Seeing them perform their finished products was amazing. I am their biggest
fan, cheering every chance I get.
We have reached the last week of Peninsula Bride at Woodside
Priory, and everyone can feel things coming to a close. The kids took their
post tests on Thursday, which will be used to show the kids progress over the
summer. These tests marked the final academic event of the summer, and the kids
seem very proud of it.
We have reached the fourth week of Peninsula Bridge
at the Woodside Priory campus, and people are beginning to look towards the end
with mingled sadness and pride. The Construction and Design class finished its
course this week with the final project of testing the bridges that the
students made. They tied a bucket full of water to the center of the bridge and
placed weights in the bucket until it reached maximum weight. All the bridges
that the students constructed passed the test and the students were very proud
of their creations. The class as a whole learned a lot about what goes into the construction of a bridge and how important they really are in our every day life. A big thank you to DPR construction for their magnificent work.
Bridge ball, bridge ball, bridge ball. There are so many things to say about this wonderful sport. Bridge ball is dodge ball, except it is cranked up to a whole new level. It is more intense, more exhilarating, and just plain old more fun. The rules are the same as dodge ball- hit the person they are out and catch the ball and a teammate can come back into the game- but for some reason playing it at Peninsula Bridge just makes the game so much different.
Monday, July 12, marked the beginning of our 4th week of Peninsula Bridge here at Crystal Springs. The energy is great, and the students are excited for their upcoming field trips and their performances at Celebration. The day began with our weekly Morning Meeting. Jose began the meeting with announcements concerning the week's events and plans for celebration. Our Word of the Day was "Narcissist," which means "one who loves or admires themselves excessively."
It is the end of the fourth week already here at Peninsula Bridge! I cannot believe it is almost done. On Friday, July 16 we had guests from the Marine Institute visit with the 5th graders from St. Joseph's and the 7th graders from Sacred Heart. In the past, we have gone on field trips on boats in the bay with the Marine Institute, but now we have them come to our campus.
The fourth week here at the Castilleja Peninsula Bridge site has been full of excitement and wonder. We started off the week with our field trip to S.L.A.C. (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). Our site director, Mary H, gave the girls a brief background to S.L.A.C. as well as a short vocabulary lesson on some of the words that the scientists would use there.
Week four of Peninsula Bridge at the St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School site was filled with howls and triumph. The week started off with the 6th grade math class beginning their lesson with a run around the grass outside while howling like wolves. The math teacher Mr. Williamson likes to get the kids pumped up for learning something new by getting oxygen flowing to their brains. Meanwhile, the 5th grade has been working hard on their personal narratives in language arts, and are almost done reading Tuck Everlasting.
Since this is the last week
of the program, I decided to ask some Teacher Assistants about their experience
so far with the Peninsula Bridge Program. I asked if they had any lasting
realizations from working with the kids one on one, or if they had any special
moments with the students. Each and every TA had something to bring to the
This week at Woodside Priory we hosted another tour for the program.
This group was the largest tour group the priory program has hosted this
summer, and the tour guides handled the crowd admirably. Among the group were
several parents of the TA's, including Katrina Wang's family who had flown in
only hours before the tour from Beijing, as well as Mike Calbert, the father of
this humble blog writer.
Bridge site had a very eventful third week! We had a field trip to the Asian
Art Museum in San Francisco. The students researched Asian culture and art
prior to the field trip and were able to excitedly recognize some of the
artwork and statues they had researched at the museum. One of my advisee's, Cortney C., brought
me over to a statue and was able to tell me what it exactly was, what it
represented, and in what country it is most seen.
My name is Halsey and I am one of the TA's at Crystal's Peninsula Bridge. It has been an exciting few weeks. Last Tuesday, we took the students to Stanford and UC Berkeley for University Day. They spent the day touring the campus and learning the history of the schools, and learning what it is like to be a student at Stanford and Berkeley.
This is my third year working at Peninsula Bridge and every year it just keeps on getting better. This year, I am a TA for the seventh grade English class and the kids are amazing. I was the TA for this group of students two years ago when they were in fifth grade at the St. Joseph's site. It is amazing to see how much these kids have grown and how much progress they have made in their studies.
While the academics are a critical part of the program, what I enjoy
most about Peninsula Bridge are the electives that each of the kids get
to choose. It is a way for the kids to unwind after their classes and to
try new activities and enrichment programs.
Last Friday, July 2nd we had our first family guided conversation. We wanted to address topics concerning bullying, racism and respect. I was nervous about guiding my family group at first because I feared they would struggle with the conversation, but I was pleasantly surprised when everyone participated and had very reflective, sincere and intelligent answers to group questions.
St. Matthew's Peninsula Bridge program enjoyed some wackiness this week, as we opened up our first day of spirit week with wacky hat/hair Wednesday.The uplifting spirit of the week shed some light on the role of encouragement between students at St. Matthew's site.While some students were willing to go all out, there were others who were less adventurous.As a TA, I noticed the encouragement and support the students offered each other. I heard one student say, "It's OK-you can do it. Just wear your regular pajamas to show your spirit."The encouragement and the support the students had for one another was truly inspirational, and the TA's can see the growth that is developing each and every day they are here.
This week at the Woodside Priory Peninsula Bridge Program, our staff hosted its first tour of the campus on Thursday, July 1. Sherri Shaner, the development director, and Grainger Marburg, the Executive Director, welcomed a tour group to the Woodside Priory Campus. Our guests included parents and grandparents of students, long time sponsors of the program, and as a surprise, Paul Trudelle. Mr. Trudelle is a veteran Peninsula Bridge teacher and the father of the current algebra teacher here at the site, Laura Trudelle.
The first Monday morning as a huge yellow bus pulled into the front of the school, I realized I was a little nervous. But now, a mere five days later, those feelings seem trivial. Neither the TA's nor the teachers can believe that it's only been a week! In this small amount of time, we have made great connections with the students, and the girls have enjoyed their classes and afternoon electives.
The time has just flown by - literally! In the first week of Peninsula Bridge at St. Matthew's, we celebrated Space Week, in which we made rockets out of recycled 2-liter bottles and hovercrafts out of old bottle caps and CDs. To add to the intergalactic spirit, all of the T.A.s adopted alien-like personalities, wearing antennae and Princess Lea buns, and 'space-walking' during activities. During the second week, 'Planet Earth Week', some of the kids signed up to work in our garden and plant new vegetables and learned about gardening, agriculture and the environment on our home planet.
In addition to the academic classes we have for our students, St.
Matthew's also has some exciting new afternoon electives. Students can
pick from a range of activities, from yoga to game time to music class.
At Crystal Springs' Peninsula Bridge, our week started out with the TAs yelling "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!".
It was the start of Spirit Week, and the theme was World Cup. Each advisory group of six students chose a country to represent in each of the Spirit Week competitions.Monday's competition was World Cup football. After a series of elimination games, the 7th grade advisory of "England" emerged victorious over the 8th grade's "Mexico", which created lots of excitement.
Early mornings at Peninsula Bridge are filled with so much energy; the sound of running feet, the smell of soccer and rubber balls in the sun, the sight of running kids moving from corner to corner across the quad, and everyone is excited for a new day here. This is only the second Monday of the five during the program, but already things seem to be working smoothly. The teachers and teachers' assistants work well together in the classroom and the students readily play together in one huge game of volleyball. Things are flowing well and we are able to begin to see the small joys that happen everyday. On any given day, you will see teachers and TA's sitting together playing guitar with a circle of students around them, TA's passing a soccer ball with students, and students running alongside new friends on their way to class.
Every morning when I see the excited, smiling faces of 90 Peninsula Bridge students getting off the bus, I gain a new sense of enthusiasm and energy for the day. My name is Maya C. and this is my second summer being a TA for Peninsula Bridge. The feeling that today's going to be a good day is an ongoing occurrence that I credit to the students. The students are absolutely incredible, from their fun jokes to their academic achievements to their bubbling excitement, Peninsula Bridge students always make my day.
The Woodside Priory chapter of the Peninsula Bridge Program began this week with a class of 60 rising eight graders. The kids arrived bright and early on the bus Monday morning and the enthusiasm they brought hasn't dulled in the slightest throughout the week.
One of the English teachers, Kindra Briggs, says about the students, "They have a lot of energy, a little bit of sass, and generally they seem pretty excited."
Their excitement is only matched by the eagerness of the teachers and the TA's, whether it's Elena Long leading the morning cheer, or philosophy teacher Mathew Nelson leading his class in an exercise in identity by peeling lemons.
Hello from Language Arts at Menlo Bridge! This summer, the students have been working hard on writing summaries of and responses to informational articles. They've been learning to write with a formal structure by using a thought-out topic sentence, supporting details, clear examples, and a conclusion in each paragraph. In order to inspire this kind of writing, the students get to read interesting articles about history, science and their peers. For example. this week, they've read articles about the construction of The Great Wall of China, volcanoes, and trading cards.
The last week of Peninsula Bridge summer program is, not surprisingly, bittersweet. Everyone is in the "groove" of their routine, comfortable with one another, and excited for the upcoming activities that will cap -- if not define -- our experience here. Indeed the program is ending after what seems like only a short while. But this week gives the teachers and the TAs a huge opportunity to make yet another lasting imprint on these children's minds, hopefully making them want to return year after year.
The last week of Bridge at the Priory Site simply flew by. Beginning with exams, and ending with a field trip up to San Francisco, the "Bridge Familia" was never at rest. The students finished with flying colors. They showed significant improvement, especially in math, which is an area with which many of them struggled before coming into the program. Field day was a blast. The water slide was a favorite, and the students seemed to get a lot of enjoyment out of the various stations we had set up for them including Palm Reading, Can Knocker, Twister, and even a Cake Walk. Meanwhile, I spent the day prepping the Performing Arts Building for Graduation, which was to happen that evening.
Even as we come into the home stretch of the Bridge program, I find myself still reveling in the many quirks of the kids. Every morning I hear some of the sixth graders playing Marco Polo in the room across the hall and clanks, from the metal puzzles Mr. Gummerson keeps at hand, as some of the other children try their luck at figuring the puzzles out.
As the end of Bridge draws near, there is much to be done here at the Priory site. On a daily basis you will find the teachers, students, and volunteers bustling around in an effort to prepare for the culminating events that take place next week. In addition to graduation and the surprise field trip on Friday, I'm collaborating with one of our teachers, Sean S, to put together an art show that will take place next week. This will give students the chance to show off their impressive work in Photography and Art & Leadership.
This week has been loads of fun, but Bridge is passing by too quickly! We TAs have noted we wish time would slow down a little bit!
Thursday we paid a visit to the Asian Art Museum, which was incredible. Kids were fascinated by the stone Buddhas and the intricately decorated dishes in the museum. The majority of the students declared that the Samurai section of the museum was the best part, as well as the exhibit where students could wear Samurai armor or a kimono. One student offered facetiously that her favorite part was the glass elevator which looked over a large portion of the museum.
Art class at the Menlo site this week is learning to create art as service! The students are in groups creating signs for local animal shelters about the merits of adoption. One student told me, "Our paintings are going to hang outside so everybody who walks by wants to adopt!"
My name is Alinne and I have been a TA for bridge for the past four summers. Every morning I wake up excited to work with the kids, to hear how their weekends went, and to talk to them about their hopes and dreams. My job is literally the highlight of my summer.
On the brisk summer evening of July 9th, families gathered eagerly in the Father Egon Plaza. You could sense the anticipation and excitement on behalf of the parents as well as their children. In between helpings of Brie, fruit, and Priory's homemade cookies, parents congregated with the Bridge Familia here at the Priory. Back to Bridge Night '09 was certainly an event to remember.
As we wrap up our third week here at St. Matthew's, I've found that I've established so many friendships here. While it has been both a challenge and a delight to teach and play with the students, I always find it quite rewarding. I suppose the other TAs and I did not quite realize the impact of the students on us--and vice versa. We have shared many laughs and growing moments thus far.
We're not going to try and tell you the first three weeks of Bridge have been uneventful. Between fractions, decimals, poetry and the Tech Museum, teachers and students alike have their hands full. Each student looks forward to Thursday, the designated field trip day with the great excitement only children can muster, and each TA looks forward to Thursday with the subtle thrill of fear; one TA admitted that she had never said '"Don''t touch!'" so many times in her life than in the Cantor Arts Museum, where we had our last field trip, in an attempt to alleviate the burning curiosity which inspired all our students to lay hands on Rodin's famous sculptures, to our chagrin.
My name is Evelyn and I am in my third summer of TAing at the Sacred Heart Bridge Program. When I arrive first thing in the morning, I'm so sleepy from working my second job the night before that it's almost impossible to stay awake. Once I see a few kids stream their way to the courtyard I wake immediately.
We're already into the third week of Bridge and time has flown by. I've already made memories that will last a lifetime and hopefully friendships, too, judging by the great connections I've formed with my advisory of girls, my fellow T.A.s and the site directors. Every morning, advisories sit together and eat breakfast. We talk about everything from light topics like weekend plans and embarrassing stories to heavier subject matter with topics like bullying, verbal self-defense, and what it means to be a part of a team. I love how my girls have told me that because of advisory, they can trust me and tell me everything. They have told me that I listen to them with all of my heart.
Cardiologists Dr. Coggins and Dr. Babcock came to Menlo Bridge today, and they led the students in health class in dissecting cow hearts and lungs. For the last week and a half, the students have been learning how the heart and respiratory system works and how to best keep the important organs healthy. However, there is nothing like getting to interact with real ones!
My name is Cynthia and this is my first year as a Peninsula Bridge TA. So far,it has proved to be a very rewarding experience. I am currently a Senior at UC Berkeley with a double major in Art History and Sociology/Gender and Women's Studies. I decided that it would be a good idea to share my love for the History of Art with the students here at Crystal Springs by designing a brief survey course of the history of various sculptures, paintings and architecture. It was a very difficult task to go through 30,000 years of art and narrow the images down to around 100, but I feel that the images we went over in class were a good overview of the field. We begin the class with an introduction of Prehistoric Art and art of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The remainder of the days are divided between Roman/Greek Art (which seems to be the kids' favorite!), Medieval/Gothic Art, Renaissance/Baroque Art and ends with Romanticism/Impressionism/Modern Art. We cover the big artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini, da Vinci, Picasso and Rembrandt as well as famous structures such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Vatican and the Eiffel Tower.
Lights, Camera, Action! This phrase is quite indicative of the new addition to the Priory Bridge Program--a photography elective offered three days a week in the afternoon. Our teacher, Anita Schiller, is a retired employee of the computer industry. Photography has been her lifetime hobby, and she has published a few books, including one tiled His Children, a winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award. She was a former volunteer for Castilleja's site, and now she graces the Priory with her photo expertise. "These days I spend
my time traveling, enjoying life and doing volunteer work of various sorts. I
love working with teenagers and young adults, and have a fair amount of experience doing that." We are very lucky to have Anita on our team, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to be a T.A. for her photography class.
I feel incredibly lucky that been a Peninsula Bridge TA is even considered a job. It is so easy to become wrapped up in all of the activities that time passes by without even realizing it. Being one of four teaching assistants at St. Matthew's, I have truly discovered how much the presence of each TA means to the children and how much they look up to us as role models, whether in the classroom or outside doing sports and arts activities. They gravitate towards us, and we enjoy being with them.
During the day at Bridge, I take on many roles in and out of the classroom. In
our morning game sharks and minnows, I am a minnow swiftly trying to avoid being tagged by a swarm of fifth grade sharks. After the game I am master "mike-a-chu" the highest evolved form of the popular Pokemon character Pikachu. A fifth grader named Zack gave me this nick name and it spread like wild fire. At break I am also the villain of the four square courts and self proclaimed best four square player in the world. When one of the campers manages to get me out, it is quite the spectacle. All of them cheer in excitement as I walk to the back of the line to get back in. Juan hasn't let me forget about last Tuesday when he hit the ball through my legs to get me out.
The minute the big yellow bus pulled into campus on the crisp morning of June 22nd, I was immediately drawn to the bright-eyed, glowing faces of this year's Bridge students. I knew I was in the right place. Since then, they have not let me down. The first week of Bridge at Woodside Priory School has been a whirlwind, but in the best sense possible. The staff has been making detailed plans and getting revved up for weeks now. Finally, we can put all this preparation to good use.
Good day! How are you? I hope you're doing well because in Peninsula Bridge everything is great! Having been part of the Peninsula Bridge program since I was in third grade (I am a junior now at UC Berkeley), I know there will always be amazing days filled with surprises. Last semester, I studied abroad in the cittá eterna, Roma. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Each summer, I try to incorporate my elective courses with new knowledge I have acquired over the school year. In Italy, I took two intensive Italian language courses and quickly fell in love with the language. I therefore decided to teach my Peninsula Bridge students the language. In my elective course titled Coltura Italiana e Lingua Elementare (Italian Culture and Elementary Language), students learn Italian grammar, vocabulary and basic dialogue. Students have already learned Le Introduzione (Introductions), and Come Ordinare en un Ristorante (how to order in a restaurant). Every day, the course focuses on different Italian cities--cities which I visited in my stay-- and we discuss monuments, foods, culture and fashion; Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence are among the cities the course focuses on.
The Peninsula Bridge Summer Program opened it doors to twenty-eight energetic and eager to learn fifth and sixth graders at St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School in San Mateo. The twenty-eight students not knowing what to expect from the program confessed that it has exceeded their expectation. As one of the math TAs I have noticed that the students are engaged in the material that is taught during class. They are mostly fascinated by the teaching style of Mr. Gummerson, who highly promotes the importance of mathematics, but is also aware of the enthusiasm and curiosity that the students have at this age. The students demonstrate strong friendships among each other, as well as respect for each other.
Greetings from the Menlo School Bridge Program! We've only just begun but it is already clear that a fun-filled five weeks are ahead of us this summer. The kids are energetic, enthusiastic, and ready to learn. In the past week, the kids in Reading have already been introduced to the structure of a proper paragraph. In Math the kids are learning about fractions and how to multiply, reduce, and simply them. Just this Friday, the kids competed in a math competition during lunch (simplify as fast as possible!) and the Spanish class was dancing and eating quesadillas. Not to mention all the fun activities going on in the Art and Health classes. If this week is any indication, Menlo Bridge will be great!