Originally conceived of by Thousand Oaks’ parent Rachel Hurwitz, and developed with the supportive leadership of Principal Jen Corn, teachers Jeni Wendel and Quise Rodriguez, and Site Coordinator for Family Engagement Laura Rivas, BRIDGE/PUENTE is a family engagement initiative that seeks to deepen community connections through the sharing of diverse stories. The name BRIDGE is an acronym that echoes the project’s goals: Building Relationships, Inviting Dialogue, Generating Engagement.
BRIDGE/PUENTE is an ongoing collaboration between Thousand Oaks Elementary, Saint Mary’s College, and Richard Geer—author of Story Bridge: From Alienation to Community Action and Founder of the non-profit Community Performance International.
In year two of BRIDGE/PUENTE (2015), the Thousand Oaks (TO) community spent the month of January sharing stories around acommon theme: “Be an Ally.” Students in K-5 classrooms worked with St. Mary’s College students to share stories about times they had been an ally, needed an ally, or failed to be an ally. Parents also met in affinity groups to explore their own ally experiences. Then on Saturday, January 24, the TO community gathered for performances by TO and SMC students, intergroup dialogue, and reflection/discussion facilitated by Principal Corn, and Charity DaMarto, Director of BUSD’s Office of Family Engagement and Equity.
BRIDGE/PUENTE is making space for students, teachers, school communities, families, and the larger community to intersect in creative ways that make our students, and our entire community stronger.