The ability to read is not one that comes naturally to anyone and many children and adults have had their lives altered by reading difficulties, which know no class, race, or intelligence level. The schools that children attend make a difference in their reading and academic achievement. Bridge Prep will offer Staten Island students suffering from dyslexia or other language-based learning disabilities and their families a unique educational choice. Through a needs-based support structure, expanded learning opportunities, and creative educational experiences, the school will provide rigorous instruction based on a balanced, cross-cultural, and multisensory instructional approach to improve academic outcomes for all of its students. In addition to the use of the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy, the school will have several other unique features, including a daily emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Executive Functioning skill development, an emphasis on physical fitness, and specially designed creative learning extensions for student learning.
The school will open with 86 seats across grades 1 and 2, and will add a grade and new seats each year until it reaches its initial grade span of 1-5 by the 2022-2023 school year, serving approximately 242 students. A final location for the school in the borough is yet to be finalized and will be determined in the coming months.
BP Oddo said, “Our journey in opening Bridge Preparatory Charter School has been a long and consistent effort as we heard from parents, advocates, and students and began to understand the frustration that many of our children were feeling—they were bright and intelligent, but could not seem to learn to read and process as easily as their peers. It has been with these children and families in mind, and with an extremely dedicated team of people who knew we had to connect children to literacy in a manner in which they can learn, that we announce the New York State Board of Regents’ historic decision to approve Bridge Preparatory Charter School for opening in 2019. I am grateful that the Board of Regents has approved the charter and that struggling readers will soon have a dedicated school to help them learn and succeed.”
“The Regents’ decision was a bold and equitable step toward ensuring a better educational experience for so many students who are left behind in the traditional school structure and will provide students and families on Staten Island with a unique and specially designed learning environment, that is truly designed with all students in mind.” said Bridge Prep Founder Tim Castanza. “Providing all students with a caring, supportive and inclusive school community is critical for the success of public education and is embedded in our core. At Bridge Prep, our community can expect an educational experience that builds student resiliency and fosters social and emotional growth, where they all students, families and staff feel valued, safe and respected. So many members of the Staten Island community were instrumental in helping Bridge Prep become a reality and our journey to becoming a school was a result of incredible collaboration between families, community members and local, City and State leaders. While there is a seemingly endless list of people to thank, we are especially grateful for the support and leadership of Borough President Oddo, whose commitment to assuring that the needs and voices of students on Staten Island were heard and met with action, is unrivaled and to Dr. Christine Cea, Staten Island’s representative on the Board of Regents, for her continued advocacy and belief in our mission.”
Beginning in November of 2014, Borough President Oddo began meeting with parents, advocates, and students children to better understand the challenges they face every day. In early 2016, the Borough President and his staff became convinced that the best course forward to help address the needs of this cohort of students would be the creation of a new public charter school, and to that end, the Borough President convened a Planning Team for the school, consisting of literacy experts, advocates, educators and parents. The group began working on the charter application for the school in 2017.