Bridge Program Helps Students Get Back on Track Toward Graduation

Posted January 1, 2020

The Bridge Program in the Independence School District focuses on student empowerment by providing struggling students with the tools and support to get back on track toward graduation.

The program supports students from all three ISD high schools, Truman, Van Horn and William Chrisman and operates at Independence Academy.

Student Aaron Manus says he loves the program, although he was nervous at first, “If you need help, just ask and they will help you with every detail. I used to fail every class and now I’m passing all my classes.”

Bridge Program teacher Cody Pastorella calls it an amazing team and says it’s been an extraordinary experience to be part of, “Kids who didn’t take their education seriously now feel differently and are excited about the progress they are making.”

The Bridge Program offers a smaller classroom environment, customized academic plans, post-secondary planning and credit recovery.

Cosette Jorgensen says she’s excited to know she will now be able to graduate on time with her peers. She says her grades have improved as well as her organization, “I’ve realized it’s not that difficult to get your work in. My mindset changed. It’s not that hard.”

The Bridge Program supports also include graduation coaches. The graduation coaches are recently retired ISD teachers, who’ve come back part time to help Bridge students while they’re at Independence Academy and when they transition back to their comprehensive high school.

Graduation coach Libbi Sparks says she’s proud to be making a positive impact, “I become their supporter. I can talk to them and work with them on different skills. I’m also trying to figure out ways to make them successful so when they go back to their high school, they can use the skills here to make them successful there.”

The students say the graduation coaches are helpful to have someone checking in on them and encouraging them along the way. Jorgensen says, “Having the extra support is actually working very well. It’s helping a lot. It gives me someone to talk to and someone to say, hey you are doing really good…keep it up, I’m proud of you.”

The Bridge Program is truly bridging the gap by giving students the skills and confidence to believe in themselves and their future.