Action Researchers

Artists, educators, administrators, evaluators and kids worked together as practitioner researchers.

Bridges was designed as a collaboration

The Bridges model and curriculum were collaboratively developed over 8 years through cycles of questions, implementation, reflection and revision. Meet the action researchers behind Bridges!

  • Maggie Fishman and Erin Orr stand together, smiling, at the Bridges Launch celebration event.

    Design Team

    The Design Team collaboratively designed the Bridges research project: creating curriculum sequences to test teaching strategies, revising curriculum and strategies through feedback, designing and leading professional development for artist mentors and classroom teachers, organizing documentation, analyzing data, and developing a model to share working principles. They also directed the implementation of the program in schools, working with principals and assistant principals to bring them into the research.

    The team translated professional development concepts and activities into a digital resource library and website format, directing documentation archivists and video editors.

  • Kari Morris, standing, holds up and points to their pencil as they lead a table of seated classroom teachers in a Bridges activity.

    Artists Mentors

    Artist mentors learned, helped, developed and revised essential Bridges teaching practices and curricula. They modeled the curricula in classrooms, co taught and then mentored classroom teachers.  In conversation with teachers they assessed strategies and curricula. They held working sessions with teachers, and worked with the design team to assess, interpret and create increasingly streamlined, effective and relevant and liberatory strategies. We asked our mentors to say a few words about their learning in Bridges and their growth as educators through the bridges process.

  • Bridges teacher leader, Ms. Martin, standing with her setting background and puppets at a table of students, making one student laugh with her puppet improv.

    Teacher Leaders

    Teacher Leaders participated in three years of research and professional development and then selected Bridges curriculum to adapt and implement in their classrooms. With support from an Artist Mentor, they tested the research and allowed documentation of their work, providing many of the examples and resources shared on this website.

  • Group of educators talking around a table about the observations made during Bridges research.

    School Partners

    The school partners that participated in our research range from having provided foundational context and basis for this work, to having worked with us deeply over several years, or having allowed us to beta test and document curriculum.  We worked deeply in schools in District 24 (2014-2018) and District 27 (2018-2022). The administrator work group contributed valuable insight into how to communicate to school leaders.

  • Student with a beaming smile holding her puppet faces and showing them to her friend at their table.


    Each of the over 3000 children in Bridges participated in a once a week, 15 week puppetry residency for 1-3 years, in kindergarten, first and/ or second grade. The children who participated attend public school in the largest and most diverse public school district in the United States. Without their curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, imagination, energy, authenticity, bravery and brutal honesty the Bridges research process would not have been possible.