Design Team

The Bridges model and curriculum were collaboratively developed through inquiry, implementation, reflection and revision.

What did the Design Team do?

They 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

  • Erin Orr, a white woman with long brown hair featured in two images: in one she holds a puppet she has made in front of her, in the other, she is seated on a classroom rug, smiling enthusiastically as she watches four kids practice their puppet show for her.

    Erin K. Orr

    Active 2014-2023

    Erin K. Orr (she/her) is the Artist Mentor and Curriculum Specialist for Bridges. She supports teaching artists & classroom teachers by working with them to create curriculum that builds on the diverse artistic literacies of children. With a background in professional puppetry, she has worked over 20 years in NYC Public Schools, specializing in early-childhood. The Bridges research builds on a sequential storytelling puppetry curriculum that Orr has developed in collaboration with teachers at PS 130 in Brooklyn since 2001. Through Bridges, Erin has engaged in this research on a larger scale; training and supporting a team of teaching artists mentors, creating puppetry curriculum as professional development for classroom teachers, supporting collaborative revision of that curriculum, and then translating it into the activities and tools featured on the Bridges website.

  • Maggie Fishman, a white woman with brown hair a big circle earrings sits at her desk with lots of books on shelves behind her. A closeup of a table with Maggie's art displayed.

    Maggie Fishman, Ph.D.

    Active 2014-2023

    Maggie (she,her) was the Director of Action Research for Bridges and multiple PD programs ‘06-’23  A visual artist and cultural anthropologist, she led the bridges action researchers by structuring and facilitating a research approach based on deep noticing and honoring multiple voices. Maggie analyzed and distilled the research to develop the Bridges model to support teachers, artists and children to evolve their visions with minimal materials and time.  She collaborated to craft a curriculum that made the model concrete. The Magic Pencil Lesson emerged from Maggie’s vision of imbuing everyday tools with imagination, transforming them into playful tools that kids can use anywhere to explore their ideas. Her focus is to develop modalities that liberate the agency and expression of children in institutional settings, and support the vision, compassion and skills of educators.

  • Kelly Donavan, a white woman with dark, wavy, shoulder length hair, and a student playing with their puppets on the classroom rug.

    Kelly Donovan

    Active 2014-2018

    Kelly Donovan (she/her) was a key educator and administrator who helped define and realize the vision for Bridges. She was responsible for coordinating the program in schools, and collaborated on PD and curriculum development as well as grant-writing. A champion of the Bridges philosophy since the beginning, she was a firm believer in the development process which gathered input from many different people. In her own words, “Bridges allows children and teachers to express their ideas in ways that are highly unique and personal. Rather than thinking of literacy as outside knowledge that is learned or acquired, [in Bridges work] the answers are inside of you.” Kelly, formerly a dance teaching artist, is currently training to be a NYC DOE teacher working with students with disabilities in inclusion settings. Her work in Bridges has played a big part in inspiring this career change!

  • Joe Nanashe, a white man, holds a camera in a classroom as he captures two students working on a collage.

    Joe Nanashe

    Active 2014-2022

    Joe Nanashe (he/him) was the Video Documentarian for Bridges. Joe was involved with Bridges from the beginning. He writes: “Observing children learn, struggle, fail, continue to think, revise, and strategize to overcome obstacles was an absolutely fascinating process to document. To see frustration turn into innovation and discovery is the closest I’ve come to literally seeing a light bulb appear over someone’s head.” In addition, “It made a huge impact on me to watch the program unfold yearly and over time, from the planning, to the PD days to the classroom – to see how the program took shape and was translated by each teacher. The dedication and openness of not just the artists involved, but the classroom educators who took an incredible leap off a, well, a Bridge and threw themselves wholeheartedly into the program with no experience in artmaking.”

  • Brenda Maloy, a white woman, featured in two photos: in one she is seated with her dog at a bridge with a waterfall and in the other she is seated at her desk typing on a computer.

    Brenda Maloy

    Active 2018-2022

    Brenda Maloy (she/her) was the Director of School Partnerships and other foundational ArtsConnection in-school programs between 1978-2022. After working in the fields of Dance, Performing and Visual Arts training and education for almost 50 years, Brenda found a fitting telos with Bridges. Her longstanding ability to inspire and communicate with teachers, administrators, artists and children helped to keep Bridges moving forward and growing throughout its 8-year implementation. Facilitating conversations with teachers as they made connections between the physical, emotional and literary expression of their students was an ongoing joy, as was seeing the evidence of learning as children played in their classrooms. Brenda feels lucky to have worked with an inspiring and always-surprising team of like-minded, diversely talented colleagues on this learning path.

  • Headshot of Carol Morgan, a white woman wearing a red scarf with white polka dots.

    Carol Morgan

    Active 2014-2020

    Carol Morgan (she, her)  was the Deputy Director for Education at ArtsConnection. She was involved in the early stages of the development of Bridges.  Her work grew out of a life-long curiosity about how we become literate human beings and the role of the arts in that process; and, how educators can define a shared knowledge base and build an effective teaching practice rooted in their own inquiry and action research.


Bridges Program Managers

Program Managers supported development of action research at the school level.  In Bridges 1 they worked with grade level groups of teachers and artists to develop research questions, document and reflect on research and assess. They shared discoveries with Design Team to integrate school discoveries into Bridges design. They did key work building collaboration with school administrators to understand the needs of the Bridges work. They supported the communication between the Design Team and school. They helped plan professional development. They helped adapt Bridges activities to realities on the ground.

  • Headshot of Kyla McKnoll, a white woman wearing red lipstick. Kyla holding a 3-D paper animal head looking at it ponderously.

    Kyla McKoll

    Active as Program Manager 2015-2018, & Director of Professional Learning 2021-2023

    Kyla Mckoll (she/ her) was Program Manager for Bridges 1.  She contributed to curriculum development and developed and piloted a streamlined approach to getting classroom teachers into co-teaching and taking on the facilitation of Bridges activities, which became the basis for how we involved teachers in Bridges 2. Kyla is a puppetry & mask artist, theatre practitioner, singer, and she’s worked in arts education since 2005. As someone who struggled with traditional education practices – inclusion education, and supporting students with learning disabilities is close to her heart. Kyla has also been part of the teams that developed Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE), and Growing Inclusivity through Vibrant Engagement ( Bridges has been influential to her new role as Director of Professional Learning and thinking about how to teach the ‘magic’.

  • Gail London, a black woman, smiling in front of river and featured beaming with a friend next to a giant penguin stuffed animal.

    Gail London

    Active 2015-2020

    Gail London (she/her) was a Program Manager for Bridges. As a lover of language, Gail was eager to see how children, MLL’s in particular, acquired language through puppetry and play. Through an evolving practice of deep listening and then distilling core ideas with minimal paraphrasing, Gail was a key facilitator at Bridges Professional Development and took crucial notes of action researchers’ ideas and findings. In her own words, “The Bridges program has taught me a great deal over the past five and a half years about the value of play in the creative process and making space for student voice; these alone have been a boon to my work supporting artists in all my other programs.”

  • Nic Leitcher, a black man sitting at a keyboard with a microphone and standing with glasses on in New York City.

    Nicholas Leichter

    Active 2018-2020

    Nicholas Leichter (he/ him) has taught throughout the US and at festivals in Africa, Asia, Canada, and Eastern and Western Europe. Leichter has received support from the Joyce Theater Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NPN, NYFA, the Jerome Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the 92nd Street Y New Works in Dance Fund, the American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program, NYSCA, NEFA through the National Dance Project, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the MetLife Community Connections Fund, and the NEA. He currently works at ArtsConnection and plays music with The Celestials.

    Nic brought an immense amount of perception and responsiveness to the particular culture of each Bridges school that he managed. Through his  involvement, we learned about how to make Bridges more flexible to the needs of adult learners

  • Brenda Maloy, a white woman, featured in two photos: in one she is seated with her dog at a bridge with a waterfall and in the other she is seated at her desk typing on a computer.

    Brenda Maloy

    Active 2014-2018

    After educational stints as a farmer, forest tender, carnival barker, lifeguard, raisin pie baker, dancer, purveyor of Irish food to the stars of midtown’s midday melodramas, Brenda Maloy’s 50-year career in arts training and education found its telos in her work with the Bridges program. Her ability to inspire and communicate with teachers, administrators, artists and children kept Bridges moving forward and growing throughout its development with real people and schools. Facilitating as teachers made connections between the physical, emotional and literacy expressions of their students was a major satisfaction. Seeing the evidence of learning as children played in their classrooms was an eternal joy. She feels lucky to have worked with an inspiring, surprising team of like minded, diversely talented colleagues on this road.

  • Caryn Cooper

    active 2020-2021

  • Sean Ward

    active 2014-2017

  • Antonio Pulgarin

    active 2018-2019



  • Jen Mohr, a white woman, standing in front of a grassy hill with a blue sky.

    Jennifer Stengel-Mohr

    Bridges EnL Consultant 2016-2023

    Jennifer (she her) began her career with the NYC Board of Education in 1997. She was a teacher and coach for over 10 years. Her extensive experience in educating language learners led her to take a position as a full-time lecturer in the TESOL-teacher education program at the City University of New York. Jennifer’s passion for the Arts led her to be active for nearly 2 decades in Grants and Special Projects throughout NYC.

    She consulted with Bridges to articulate connections between Bridges model and EnL education.  She worked with teachers and artists in Bridges 1, to strengthen the relationship between Bridges and EnL pedagogies, and educated the Design Team on how to best  support EnL students. She was part of our Administrator work group and helped to integrate Administrator requirements into the model and support documents including standards alignments.

  • Headshot of Rob Horowitz, a white man with circle shaped glasses and a salt and pepper beard.

    Dr. Rob Horowitz ED.D.

    Independant Evaluator for Bridges 2014- 2023

    Dr. Rob Horowitz ED.D. (he/ him) Executive Director for ArtsResearch.

    ArtsResearch provides services in program evaluation, research, student assessment, program design and strategic planning. They work with school districts, arts organizations, symphony orchestras, state and federal agencies, and foundations.

    ArtsResearch has conducted over 100 program evaluations, as well as basic research on the connections between learning in the arts and dimensions of cognitive, social and personal development.

    Dr. Horowitz and his team have evaluated ArtsConnection programs for over 13 years, including evaluations of AEMDD and PDAE projects, and have well-established relationships with ArtsConnection staff, administrators, teachers, artists and the NYC DOE. Dr. Horowitz served as the independent evaluator for both Bridges grants.


Special Thanks

  • Madonna Lee

    Active 2022-2023

    For assistance in obtaining permission to document parents and students at PS382X (featured on the landing page for kids & family and Explore & Describe Torn Paper Collage page).



  • Sabrina Chan

    Active 2019-2021

    For production and documentation management for in-school mentorship research.  Editing and animation support on the artist made video lessons made during the pandemic (featured on the landing page for kids & family and throughout the site.)

  • Our partner schools, administrators and teachers

    Participation in the Bridges research required that our school partners be active participants in the inquiry process. We called upon classroom teachers to dive into art making and the faciliation arts activites, asking them to each work from their own sense of themsleves as artists (whether that was joyful or anxiety producing). Our partners committed to engaging in this rigourous, long term work to innovate within their own teaching, to support the development of materials for others to use in their classrooms, and to engage their students’ emotional, intellectual and creaitve selves through integrated arts activities. Our partners continued this work despite the immense pressures and challenges facing the school system, including a global pandemic. Our school partners went above and beyond to continue this work and are deeply grateful for their commitment and dedication.


Website & Video Design and Production

  • The Felt Hat

    Website designers

    Website design & creation, graphic design & PDF resource design.



  • Erin Orr

    Developing Bridges curriculum into online resources including activity webpages, downloadable supports and library. Scripting and directing visuals, voiceover &  animation for videos to support users in implementing Bridges curriculum & pedagogy.  Designing and directing the written and visual content for all activity webpages. Building webpages & loading content. Production Management.

  • Maggie Fishman

    Translating Bridges pedagogy into an overall website concept. Designing and directing the written, visual and video content creation for the Bridges model, landing & protocol pages. Distilling 3 bridges model language into copy.



  • SJ Munford

    Archiving and curating photo and video content. Collaborating on video and webpage content development and tracking continuity between activity and pedagogy pages. Assisting with production management.

  • Kyla McKoll

    Production direction and management for ArtsConnection Professional Learning website. Building and uploading Bridges webpages and developed online content.

  • Joe Nanashe

    Video documentation & editing. Animation of logo, lower thirds and opening and ending credits for videos.

  • Chris Ignacio

    Video editing & animation to illustrate content. Graphic design of featured photos and video content. Voiceover for videos.

  • Danilo Coleman

    Video editing, uploading and closed captioning.

  • Jendaya Dash

    Building webpages and loading content

  • Rima Fand

    Composition and creation of theme music for videos. Collaborating on content development and distillation of language. Copy editing.

  • Susanna Brock

    Video Archivist. Collaborating on video content development.

  • Sara Provost

    Writing Alt text for images and editing closed captions.

  • Kelly Donovan

    Initial website team development.

  • Rachel Balcanoff

    Video Archivist

  • Erin Loughran

    Managed website and content production.


Meet the other action researchers

The Bridges design team worked in collaboration with the teaching artist mentors, school partners and classroom teachers to do research, develop the  model and create the resources on this website.