10 PeninsulaBridge peninsulabridgeNow in its second year, Nueva’s partnership with the Peninsula Bridge after-school enrichment program continues to grow and change in exciting ways.

Every Monday and Friday afternoon, middle school students from local public schools in and around San Mateo come to Nueva's Bay Meadows campus to work on English and language arts (ELA) and math. Nueva teachers Michaela Danek and Wes Patten work with eight Nueva student TAs to share Nueva’s pedagogical values with Peninsula Bridge students, focusing on project-based learning opportunities.

Michaela said that this year Peninsula Bridge and Nueva have “a richer partnership. The program is sharing what Nueva has to offer with a wider community, and also welcoming a wider community of gifted learners into the school.”

According to Peninsula Bridge Co-Executive Director Randi Shafton, “What’s new this year is that we’re working with Nueva high school students and deepening our partnership with them. We’re so grateful to Diane Rosenberg for looking at the broader community and thinking about meaningful partnerships near Nueva.”

She added, “Peninsula Bridge students love the connection to the high school students, so the leadership development and teaching opportunities with the high school students are huge.”

This year, Nueva students have become increasingly involved with curriculum design, bringing some of Nueva’s signature programs to Peninsula Bridge students. Eleventh grader Arya G., for example, has designed a robotics unit for the program.

Arya said, “Robotics is something that I’m passionate about and I thought the students would enjoy. Students are learning how to build wheeled Arduino robots, and they’re learning how to make the robots move autonomously. I try to help all the kids understand the basic ideas of robotics and engineering, and I also want them to have fun. The kids are really excited to learn, and it’s cool to know that you’re helping to build the next generation of makers and designers and thinkers.”

Peninsula Bridge site coordinator for Nueva, Joanne Yorro, spoke about students’ excitement about the robotics curriculum: “The robots are starting to move, and the kids come running out of the room to show me. Peninsula Bridge students are highly motivated and are gaining self-confidence and realizing they can really do stuff like coding and robotics and fractals that they wouldn’t normally do at school.”

Guided by Nueva teachers and Peninsula Bridge staff, both Peninsula Bridge and Nueva students are engaging in student-centered learning experiences. Students and teachers are also bringing design thinking to Peninsula Bridge.

Eleventh grader Audrey C. said, “Based on my work at Nueva’s Design Thinking Institute, I decided to design a similar curriculum and teach it to the kids for my Quest project. I learned how to design curriculum with Peninsula Bridge site leaders and with Kim Saxe and Scott Swaaley. Working with Peninsula Bridge has taught me that you don’t really know something until you teach it to a class and lead discussion. That’s given me a lot of appreciation for my teachers.”

In addition to the students’ work with robotics and design thinking, Michaela teaches ELA, for which students are currently finishing a unit on persuasive speeches.

Peter A., Arun J., and Ethan K., all eleventh graders, helped Michaela plan and teach lessons for the current ELA unit. Ethan explained, “Arun, Peter, and I all participate in Model UN, and in Peninsula Bridge we focus on sharing skills in public speaking, negotiation, and critical thinking. We also help students individually.”

According to Peter, “Students are writing speeches about children’s rights as defined by the U.N.” As a culmination of this project, students performed their speeches for their teachers, TAs, and parents.

Nueva student TAs also reflected on the opportunity to give back and share their own educational experiences with Peninsula Bridge students.

Eleventh grader Vanessa C. said of her involvement with the program, “It’s really great when you see the kids have the ‘Aha’ moment and they share that with you. I’ve had the same experience in school and now I get to pass it on to them.”

Quincy A., a tenth grader, echoed Vanessa’s sentiments: “Peninsula Bridge gives me an opportunity to work with inspiring kids and get better at mentoring and teaching. I often feel that I am in a sort of symbiosis with my kids where we learn from each other.”

Nueva students who work with Peninsula Bridge were unanimous in their excitement about the hands-on experience of teaching and mentoring, both of which have clearly enriched their own learning.

Randi envisions the project-based and student-centered pedagogy emphasized at Nueva coming up next on the horizon for the Peninsula Bridge–Nueva partnership. “The new pedagogy has really affected our team, teachers, and directors. It’s enriched our community. I’ve also been working with Hillary Freeman and Nueva’s internship program to bring Nueva students to Crystal Springs and Saint Matthews for summer internships, so Nueva students will continue to both design curricula and connect with Peninsula Bridge kids.”

She continued, “Our biggest message to these high school students is that our Peninsula Bridge students come with so many strengths and assets, so it’s that mutually enriching opportunity between Nueva kids and students who have some barriers to access to resources, but who bring grit, resilience, curiosity, and initiative to their studies.”

So what’s next for this year’s Peninsula Bridge program at Nueva? Joanne said that the next ELA unit is focused on literary circles. Students were given a choice of books to read, and they will be reading, discussing, and answering questions in small groups based on their chosen text.

The partnership between Nueva and Peninsula Bridge is clearly on an exciting trajectory that offers enrichment for all who are involved and shares Nueva pedagogy and values with a broader community.


 By Lily Brown, Upper School English Teacher

March 28, 2018



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