The Bridge 2.3-Pickles to Plans

The Bridge 2.3-Pickles to Plans




In the last issue of The Bridge I wrote about my pickle making endeavors. If you did not get a chance to read it you can find it here. I posted a picture of the most recent batch on both the City of Bridges Instagram (@cobhspgh) and the City of Bridges Facebook page (@BridgesHSPGH.) Please consider giving our accounts a follow in order to learn more about our work.


The Pickle story spawned a number of responses from people who also learned best from the practice of doing Real Work. One of those stories came from my mother, who spent her career as a pediatrician in Massachusetts. She shared her experience doing work in rural Guatemala. When she first arrived, “I didn’t really question my general pediatric knowledge.  I’d been in practice of one form or another for over 30 years and considered myself to be, in general, knowledgeable about children’s health.” During the course of her time there, she had to reevaluate her understanding of nutrition, community organizing, and access to resources. In the end, she learned how to offer make a positive difference, but only by doing Real Work with Real Community members.


If you have other stories that you want to share about learning from Real Work, please let me know.


What can this look like?


One of the questions that I am often asked about City of Bridges is: “Are there schools like this? And what does it look like to do work like this?” City of Bridges does not exist in a vacuum, in fact progressive student-centered schools have been and continue to be present across the world. In previous issues of The Bridge I have mentioned some of the schools that serve as an inspiration and guide for our work and I would like to take a little time to give you a little more information. I invite you to explore these schools, City of Bridges draws from all of them as we continue to prepare for the fall of 2019.


Youth Initiative High School,


The Youth Initiative High School was founded in September 1996, in Viroqua, Wisconsin, with the driving force behind the school being a group of students who, “…shared a desire for a school that would be academically challenging, respectful of individual freedom and dignity, and rooted in a meaningful sense of community and shared responsibility.” We have had the opportunity to visit and work with Youth Initiative High School and their curriculum structure is an inspiration for City of Bridges. They also engage with the practitioners and experts in their community to provide students with meaningful application of knowledge and skills to the practical work of the world. Youth Initiative is also an inspiration as they engage students in the governance and responsibility of running and supporting the school and larger community.



The Putney School,


The Putney School was founded in 1935 in Putney, Vermont as an explicitly Progressive School.  The school continues to be a beacon for Progressive education with a deep commitment to student centered learning and mentored project work. The Putney School also has a commitment to Real Work learning, which is manifested most directly in the 500 acre dairy farm which is run by the students who attend the school. Over the decades, the Putney School has built a program that allows students to follow their passions. Their core beliefs are an inspiration to many schools including City of Bridges, take a look at them here. The Putney School also has an all community sing once a week, a tradition I would love to adopt at City of Bridges.


Stone Independent School,


The Stone Independent School opened this past fall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. City of Bridges has already built a close relationship with Stone Independent and we will continue to collaborate with them, building a larger progressive network for both schools. Like City of Bridges, Stone believes that “Everyone learns best by doing”, their classes are interdisciplinary, hands-on, and project based. I have had the opportunity to visit them and experience Stone students building traditional Peruvian ovens, constructing sustainable rain gardens, and most importantly, fully participating in building the culture and operations of the school and its community.


One Stone,


One Stone is a student-led, independent high school in Boise, Idaho. One Stone is both a High School and a student run non-profit. They use design thinking and personalized learning to prepare young people for the work of the world. This is manifested fully in Two Birds, a student led creative studio where students work with real clients on real projects. One Stone implements Real Work learning in the most genuine way possible, through Real Work.


These four schools are by no means the only inspirations for City of Bridges, in fact I was recently reminded of an elementary school in Yellow Springs, Ohio,, the oldest democratic school in the country which has a long history of inspiring work.


The young people who are the pioneers of City of Bridges’ founding years will guide the process of finding inspiration and best practices in other schools and bringing them to our community as we Make Our Road by Walking.


I have mentioned Progressive Education a number of times in this Bridge and next week I am will share more about Progressive Education.


Thank you and Be Well,


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