On Friday, October 19, 2018, The Bridge Way School, Pennsylvania’s first and only Recovery High School, officially opened its doors to the community at a brand new location, 7360 Jackson Street, with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Bridge Way now occupies the former St. Bernard School and has been operating there since March 2018. The recent opening event provided the opportunity for neighbors, local businesses, partner organizations, and prospective students and families to get a gist of the program.
A member of the Association of Recovery Schools, The Bridge Way School is the first high school in the Greater Philadelphia region designed specifically for students in recovery from a substance use disorder. It is an accredited private school approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and is intended for those students who wish to attend a program where they will develop and nurture the tools and strategies to maintain sobriety while at the same time holding themselves and their classmates accountable as members of a sober learning community. Recent PA legislation has provided for tuition-free access for twenty (20) students in a newly enacted pilot program with PDE and School Districts covering education costs for each student.
When AnnMarie Schultz, President and CEO of CORA Services, and Mary K. Doherty, Director of Government and Strategic Partnerships, learned that The Bridge Way School was in danger of closing, they knew immediate action had to be taken. Consequently, a high priority meeting was held to determine how CORA could aid in keeping Bridge Way’s doors open and advancing their mission.
Over the past two years, CORA has financially and programmatically supported The Bridge Way School in multiple ways. This partnership originally arose from a strong expression of need and concern from the Northeast Philadelphia community around the opioid epidemic and its effects on families. CORA Services’ Board recently approved a second, year-long managerial contract that will enable CORA to oversee operations for Bridge Way and provide efficient access to services with synergy between the two programs. Bridge Way’s philosophy is to provide students with a sanctuary of strength and refuge and is similar to CORA’s mission.
CORA and Bridge Way are also partnering on another related initiative, an APG (Alternative Peer Group), which will be funded in part by a STOP (Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention) Grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and the Windmill Foundation. National researcher, Dr. Crystal Collier, defined the group using its common elements as presented across research studies. She describes the APG as a “community-based, family-centered, professionally staffed, positive peer support program that offers prosocial activities, counseling, and case management for people who struggle with substance use or self-destructive behaviors. APGs are a much better fit for the adolescent who struggles with substance use and co-occurring disorders because the main focus is to offer and shape a new peer group that utilizes positive peer pressure to stay sober. In addition, APGs focus on making sobriety more fun than using by organizing and staffing sober social functions throughout the week, weekends, and summers.” Previously located in Roxborough, Bridge Way found a temporary home in August 2017 in CORA’s Administration Building at 8540 Verree Road. In March of this year, Rebecca Bonner, Bridge Way’s Head of School, and her team relocated to Holmesburg.
Students, teachers and the community at large are excited as The Bridge Way School continues expanding and serving this previously isolated group of young people. CORA Services proudly endorses this initiative, as an invaluable resource to individuals and families consumed by substance use and co-occurring disorders. To learn more about admission to Bridge Way, call 267.437.2194.
CORA is proud to support students on the Road of Recovery.