ESD 105 opened its first-ever day of classes on Sept. 5 at the Newbridge Learning Academy, a program that’s been designed to assist students with challenging behavioral issues by providing them with a progressive system of social-emotional skill development as well as traditional academic instruction.

The new operation at a rented facility in Yakima is being supported through a co-op involving 15 of the region’s school districts, and is able to serve an enrollment of up to 12 students from kindergarten through 5th grade.  With a team that includes two teachers, two special education paraeducators, and other support staff, Newbridge is also providing a more cost-effective method for school districts that would otherwise need to devote a staff of their own to work with those individual students.

Newbridge is designed around rigorous and engaging academic instruction that supportively acknowledges, reinforces, and rewards each child’s act of positive social conduct, and includes daily communications with parents.  Students’ behaviors are tracked through three levels, toward the ultimate goal of systematically allowing each enrollee to return to general education classes back at their home school district.

Says Newbridge principal Mel Blair:  “Most of the pieces of education have been negative for them until now, and we’re finally able to put them in a system that they can understand. We’ve had parents already say this is the first time that their child is excited to come to school.”