01 Jul 9th Bridge School: Redefining the Experience of School
By Kim Schaefer
This fall, a school will open Downtown with a mission to redefine the experience of school. When 9th Bridge opens its doors to its first students, it will be a major milestone on an ongoing journey that began with an idea and grew, with the help of experts from around the world, into a place where learners, their families, and their teachers are valued.
The project was brought to fruition by Connie Yeh, who oversees education initiatives for Downtown Project, along with Meg Murray who holds a doctorate degree in education and has been a professional educator for over 20 years. Also on their team is Etola Berry, an expert in the field of brain-based learning, and Janpeg Avignon-Steele, who has spent much of her career recruiting teachers.
The team’s efforts have been informed by experts in both local and global think tanks. Among those on the think tank teams are Michelle Gielan, an expert in the field of positive psychology; Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, a specialist in the fields of curriculum and instruction; Jamie Cloud, a leader in the field of sustainability; and Trish Martin, an expert in the field of neuroplasticity. They have helped 9th Bridge create a learning environment and curriculum for children based both on neuroscience and social emotional learning. The curriculum will be supported by a nutrition program that is also informed by the tenets of brain-based learning.
The school’s facilities will also support an innovative approach to education. 9th Bridge is currently under construction in an adaptive reuse project of a building that was originally built in the forties and formerly housed a church, the design for which was created by local architecture firm Novus. Each classroom will have roll-up glass garage doors that enable the learning area to connect to the outdoors. Classrooms are also outfitted with sliding glass doors connecting classes to one another, enabling children to have increased interactions with one another and with other instructors. Finishes were chosen in colors that have been shown to enhance creativity. There will also be a state-of-the-art common playground, a tortoise habitat, and a school garden.
Parents can take in all that is happening in the classrooms by spending time in an observation nook outside their child’s class in order to help create consistency between the home and school environment. 9th Bridge will also feature a family resource room where families can spend time together reading, playing, socializing with other families, or just hanging out.
9th Bridge will initially launch as an early childhood center, welcoming children from infants through kindergarten. There are plans for the school to continue growing, rolling out new grade levels until a child can attend from infancy all the way through high school graduation. For its youngest community members, 9th Bridge will offer special, one-on-one learning time for infants that will help to develop their cognitive abilities in age-appropriate ways. Older children will spend time not merely sitting in a classroom, but will be able to participate in their learning through hands-on, child-led activities. Their teachers will include specialists dedicated to the students’ social and emotional well-being along with instructors who lead them through centers where they will build their pre-reading, math, and science skills. Through its innovative curriculum, 9th Bridge hopes to prepare its students to solve problems that have yet to arise or that can be currently imagined.
9th Bridge is currently accepting applications for this fall. The school is holding parent information sessions for interested families on Thursdays, the next of which will take place on July 11th at 6 p.m. Or to learn more about 9th Bridge, its curriculum, tuition, and application process, visit 9thbridgeschool.com.
310 S. 9th Street
Las Vegas 89101