The Power of Yes - Teaching With an Abundance Mindset for 30+ Years
Bridgette Donald-Blue (LA, ’92) has been in the classroom for over 30 years and was recognized as one of California’s Teachers of the Year in 2022. Learn more about her journey and why her passion for teaching continues.
February 15, 2023
Bridgette Donald-Blue - LA ‘92
Coliseum Street Elementary
Primary Promise Math Intervention
Bridgette Donald-Blue’s growth mindset is boundless, and the lives of those around her are better for it. Her persistent push has helped her students reach new academic heights and her colleagues’ careers flourish across her last 30 years as an educator. In 2022 Bridgette was recognized as one of the California Teachers of the Year for her impact and brilliance in the classroom by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. Her special ability to simultaneously inspire and educate is exactly why her principal at Coliseum Street Elementary School in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood recruited her for her current role where she helps students recover lost learning in math due to the pandemic. “I try to provide my students with a growth mindset,” explains Bridgette, “I tell them, ‘No, you don't know your times tables…YET! But it's going to come.’”
After graduating from Howard University in 1992, Bridgette decided to join Teach For America’s Los Angeles’ corps before attending law school. When her two-year teaching commitment in Compton, California ended, she could not pull herself away. “I found myself thinking about new lessons to teach and other things to do…so I told my family I'll give it one more year. Then, it just kept going,” she laughs. During her career, Bridgette has taught 1st - 5th grade and worked in the front office as an administrator. She’s been an adjunct professor at UCLA and California State University, Dominguez Hills, and also earned her National Board Certification in Education. When pushing herself to stretch in new ways and expand her influence, one of her favorite African proverbs fuels her, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Every time Bridgette is fortunate enough to have a teacher’s aide in her classroom, she immediately works with them to set goals and chart a path toward a teaching credential. “If you want to achieve the greatest success, go together,” she shares, “take someone with you, not only have them participate in your success, but you participate in theirs and know that the journey is the most important thing about it.”
Bridgette knows every person’s journey is different because everyone has their own talents and dreams. Part of the job of a teacher, as she sees it, is to help students discover their passions and learn to think of their education as a “vehicle to success” in pursuit of those passions. Bridgette asks her students what they want to be when they grow up and often refers to each child by their chosen future profession. “I try to just drop those seeds. Hopefully, somebody will continue to water it, but I'll try to douse as much water as I can on it while I have the chance.” She engages her students by empowering them to take “ownership of their learning and be the drivers of it.” With so many grade-level standards, there is no shortage of goals. Bridgette maps out students’ progress and explains why the goal is important and how they’ll work together to achieve it. “I find that when students participate and their own success and goal setting, they are more likely to achieve it. Because then it belongs to them,” she details.
“I want people to know that the work that Teach For America does, that we do, is important. Every child has a purpose.”
“I believe in the philosophy that all students can learn,” tells Bridgette. It’s this belief, paired with her patience, optimism, and integration of student identity into her teaching, that has changed many, many lives. In her second year as a teacher, she helped a first-grader who only spoke Spanish learn to read proficiently in English by the end of the year. That student went on to teach her four siblings to read, and twelve years later, Bridgette attended her high school graduation where she was graduating with honors and attending UCLA in the fall. When she taught a child in fourth grade who was in foster care, she spent time with him to explain what options were available and possible steps he could take to put himself and his younger brother on a path to success. Years later, when she ran into him at the store, he assured her that he followed her guidance and was currently a Nursing student at USC, and shared that his brother was also thriving. Her unyielding dedication to her students is unshakable, and continues to create opportunities for children every day. “I want people to know that the work that Teach For America does, that we do, is important. Every child has a purpose. Just because they may not hit a marker at this point, it's our job to let them know they should never give up. They will rise to the occasion given somebody's heart and mind believing they can. Students show up ready to try, ready to dust off the memory of yesterday and move forward. Just watching that resiliency, that's inspiration for me to do the best that I can because they deserve that best.”