The Bridges Professional Development Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization devoted to providing professional development and educational resources to Texas educators and expanding the “community schools” model of support for public schools—all with the goal of improving student achievement. (The organization was renamed in June of 2019 to honor the late Texas AFT president Linda Bridges.)
BPDI will improve student achievement by making a difference in practitioners’ performance and professional growth while also supporting community schools models, which provide intensive community engagement and wraparound social services to “turn around” struggling schools. All programs are designed to empower educators to connect theory to practice and improve student outcomes.
The institute will work with nonprofit partners and donors to provide programs that will:
- Be rooted in evidence-based educational, cognitive and social science research.
- Be guided by cutting-edge experts in the field and designed by frontline educators who know firsthand what goes on in classrooms and schools every day.
- Provide educators with the necessary tools and resources to make complex decisions and select the most effective strategies for meeting individual students’ academic, social and behavioral needs.
- Connect excellent teaching practice with broader educational policy issues and campaigns.
- Advance the community schools model throughout Texas.
The program courses include topics such as classroom management/behavior, community/family involvement, math, reading, curriculum, instruction and assessment, English language learners, and special education.
Community schools programs include devoting resources to struggling campuses to address the challenges of the student and their families. The programs include intensive planning and engagement with parents and other stakeholders and coordination with social service providers and nonprofits to provide wrap-around services to address issues like poverty, high mobility and health care.
Current community schools initiatives are underway in Houston, Austin, El Paso, and Corpus Christi, as well several other areas just beginning programs. The BIPD has created a state-wide community schools network to share of best practices, research and technical support as more schools and school districts adopt community schools as their model for school improvement. The Institute also will continue to sponsor the annual Texas Community Schools Summits and partner with national organizations such as the National Coalition for Community Schools, Communities in Schools, and Austin Voices for Education and Youth.
For more information on the institute, or to get involved, please email Jamie Womack Williams.