The Bridge 1-4

The Bridge 1.4

October 15, 2017

“I know we have only know each other for four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days”-Navin R. Johnson


The Bridge is a month old and I feel like Navin R. Johnson from The Jerk, we may have only been sending out this news for a month, but the positive response and feedback that we have received makes it feel like at least two months. The interest in City of Bridges is growing and there is a recognition that we need new models for education here in the region. As a result I have a few thoughts to share with you this week:

  1. I had the opportunity to attend the American Middle East Institute Annual Conference this past week. The focus of their 10th anniversary conference was “Transformational Technologies” and the presentations on innovations in health care and business were exciting. (There was also a short film on Oman, which resulted in placing the country near the top of my list of places to visit). One of the presenters told the story of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. It was built in the 1930s and spanned the Choluteca River.

The Bridge was designed to withstand hurricanes and when hurricane Mitch struck in     1998, these design considerations allowed to to survive the category 5 storm…..unfortunately the river moved….

Schools and education in the United States were designed to withstand the hurricanes and span the river from childhood until adulthood…..unfortunately the river has moved, childhood and adulthood are not in the same places and we need new ideas and ideals for schooling. City of Bridges High School is committed to transforming the learning and experiences of schooling.

2. This week also brought some sad news. My uncle Rev. Dr. David L. Bartlett passed away this week. He was a minister, faculty member at the divinity school of the University of Chicago, Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary and Colombia Theological Seminary. He also served as a minister in multiple congregations. One of his sons, shared a note that my grandfather presented to my uncle.  My grandfather, Rev. Dr. Genus (Gene) Ebert Bartlett, shared the following wisdom:

“It is not a very easy or carefree generation into which you have come, David. Though all men in every country hate war and fear it, we are still killing each other as though there were nothing else to do. Hatreds we had not dreamed of have overrun us like floods. But, son, you must not run away from these things. You must do something about these. The Bible says of your namesake, ‘And David when he had served his generation fell on sleep’. We pray that you, too, may serve your generation. For when you do, son, you will discover the greatest truth that there is in this world. You will learn the wondrous fact that God is here and because of that all life has dignity and wonder and meaning. You will find that His presence in this world into which you have just come will put a song and a lantern in your heart.”
Reading this message this week I was in awe of its resonance 66 years after it was written. It seems as though “Hatreds we had not dreamed of have overrun us like floods.” And we “…must not run away from these things,”… we, “…. must do something about these.”  We continue to be live in times when we must not only acknowledge the hatreds of the world, but we must also not run away, instead we must act. City of Bridges is committed to action against hate and action for empathy, justice, peace, compassion, and joy. 
3. In education, as in many fields, we take ideas from the peers that we admire and adapt them to the needs of our communities and our students. It is my hope that we always make sure to give credit to those who inspire us! Along those lines I received the following message from The Stone Independent School in Lancaster PA, as part of their newsletter:
“And we’re watching Big Companies Make Amazing Mistakes.  Particularly SpaceX, particularly this awesome two minute SpaceX video called “How Not To Land an Orbital Rocket”.  It turns out it takes an incredible number of incredible mistakes to achieve real innovation — a lot of prototyping, a lot of revision, a lot of real failure (and a lot of exploding rockets!).  Here it’s worth wondering….if maybe schools should get a little better at embracing “failure” as a natural part of the learning process?”
I was especially drawn to the final article because I grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts, home of Smith College. I can assure you that City of Bridges will make mistakes and poor decisions. We will fail and regret our choices, but we will reflect on our failures and come together so that we can learn and grow and create something that serves each individual students and also the larger needs of peace, justice and love in the world. City of Bridges is committed to always try, to always celebrate our successes and to always learn from our failures.
These were longer thoughts this week, so I am going to leave it to just three. Please share City of Bridges with other people, please share your hope about the future with children and please share your curiosity and talents with the world.
Thank you and Be Well,

The Bridge 1.3

The Bridge 1.3


Sunday October 8, 2017


City of Bridges High School is moving along, I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of potential sites in the past week! A core element of City of Bridges is engagement with the community, so our location will help us to shape our experience.


I have few thoughts to share with you this week.


  1. What happens after high school? A successful high school experience is not the goal of high school, a successful high school experience provides young people with the knowledge, skills and wisdom to follow their passions and their interests to make a meaningful life for themselves and for others. Last year LinkedIn analyzed their data and found that the rate of job hopping has increased dramatically. Schooling needs to support young people in their experience of creating a path. If you know how to create one path, then you are able to create another.


  1. What happens to a closed school? In 2012, the Johnson Elementary School in Wilkinsburg closed its doors and the building has sat empty. Recently, the school was purchased by a group of dedicated and passionate people who are working to open The Community Forge. They are “working to transform the Johnston Elementary School into a community space for opportunities in Wilkinsburg.” Their vision and passion are inspiring and we look forward to watching their project develop, take a look at to follow their progress.



  1. What happens when students and teachers create the learning together? We have been reading this article Mind/Shift about equal footing for teachers and students in the classroom. It is our goal to support students in their agency to take charge of their learning and their lives. The teacher profiled in the article, Scott Henstrand, describes the role of the teacher, “It’s about being present with the students, being passionate about the same questions, and working together to learn something and build a narrative.”


  1. What happens when the moon blocks out the sun? This year we visited Maryville, Tennessee to witness the Total Eclipse and it was genuinely ineffable. NASA has published some spectacular pictures and we have some spectacular memories. The next total eclipse of the sun visible from North America will be on Monday, April 8th, 2024 and the shores of Lake Erie will have nearly four minutes of totality, as you can see on this map. I would like to propose now that City of Bridges takes an all community field trip to see the eclipse. I’ll send out some more information in five years or so.



  1. What happens when you major in English but love sandwiches? We have been thinking about the paths that people take in their lives (we are working on a project around this topic….stay tuned). In our meal planning, we were reminded of a friend of ours from college, Tyler Kord. Tyler was an English major, a musician and an all around good guy. After college, Tyler went on to become a chef and wrote a delightful cookbook entitled, “A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches,” you can read about it here.


Thanks for following along on this journey! I have three requests for you this week.


  1. Please share City of Bridges High School with someone who you think might be interested, have them sign up for The Bridge at
  2. Please share a kind word with someone who needs it.
  3. Please read an interesting book or article.


As always if you have questions, or comments feel free to reach out to


Thank you and Be Well,