ourBRIDGE for KIDS offers after school and summer programs to primarily refugee and newly arrived immigrant students. Each year, we welcome students who represent over twenty different cultures. All of our students speak at least one language other than English, some of them can speak four or more!
ourBRIDGE for KIDS, at its core, attends to the academic and socio-emotional needs of our children and their families. We believe that a program based on our core values of LERD (Love, Education, Respect, and Diversity) will support students as they adjust to their new home after resettlement. We also believe that our curriculum must be shaped with our community in mind. Using research-based practices, ourBRIDGE has designed a curriculum framework that layers our four priorities: (1) English language acquisition (ESL/ELL), (2) STEAM, (3) culturally responsive, and (4) experiential.
According to Amin Awad, Director of the UNHCR Middle East and North Africa Bureau, “Language is an equalizer. When a child can speak and write in the language of the host country, this creates confidence and self- assurance, at the same time children and youth should receive opportunities to improve and maintain understanding of the language of their country of origin.” Research connects the importance of refugee success and language acquisition. Therefore, ESL/ELL- centered programming is our priority when creating, implementing, and assessing out curriculum.
For five years, Ms. Linda Lang, our Literacy Facilitator, has lead one-on-one and/or small group literacy tutoring with trained volunteers, overseen by Linda Lang, our Literacy Facilitator.
Our Literacy Facilitator will conduct pre and post assessments in order to prepare a year-long plan for each of the participants. Participants will be pull out of their group for 15 minutes a day to practice fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and pronunciation. ourBRIDGE is highly intentional in providing books to our students in which they can see themselves represented!
STEAM components of our curriculum are based on the NC Common Core State Standards and connected to current student learning in their regular school-day classrooms. The art component of STEAM is especially poignant to the students participating in our programs. For children who have experienced exceptional levels of trauma, creating art can have a positive impact on their academics, health, and overall well-being. Art is a powerful tool of advocacy (UNHCR) as it gives opportunities for people to express their experiences and perspectives. Art provides a way for newly- arrived children to find and share their voice with the world, because their voices matter.
The ourBRIDGE programming includes an integrated curriculum that contains all the previously mentioned components that support our mission and the greater academic achievement of students.
Because we work with such a dynamic and diverse population, Culturally Responsive practices must be part of our programming and curriculum. Being culturally responsive is the act of knowing our students and families, planning with their perspectives and experiences in mind, holding high expectations for all students, and committing to understanding our own identities in relation to others. Part of our mission is to ensure that students feel welcomed, and safe. By creating a program that honors to who they are and responds to their specific needs, we are building a community based on trust and love where our students and families can flourish.
We believe that student learning is based on experiences. Therefore, our programming is always striving to get kids up and moving, exploring concepts with their hands, and interacting with others. Many of our students come to us with limited English. Experiential learning is a way to learn, explore, and practice concepts without relying on more traditional teaching methods such as textbooks, lectures, and note taking. We find, that after a long day of school, students relish the opportunity to discover new things while being allowed to move and explore. See below for an example of a lesson that attends to each curriculum component.