The Bridge Way School

The Bridge Way School is Philadelphia’s first and only recovery high school. Founded in 2011, they are a PA-licensed private high school for students (grades 9-12) on their journey of recovery from substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Students attend at no cost.

The mission of The Bridge Way School is to offer a strong academic program to students in grades 9–12 who are in recovery from substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders that allows them to focus on learning in an environment in which recovery is required and supported. They believe that a recovery school that incorporates 12-step principles is a key component on the continuum of support systems and recovery management.

In addition to Rebecca Bonner and Erin Bernard, The Bridge Way School wishes to acknowledge co-founders Sharon Weinman, Jan Ambrose, and Beth Fitzsimons. The Bridge Way School would not exist if not for these individuals, as well as the Association of Recovery Schools (, which combines a challenging and meaningful academic program with the support services necessary for teens to succeed in recovery as they continue to live, work, and engage in their own communities.

Accepting the award on behalf of The Bridge Way School:

Rebecca Bonner

Rebecca Bonner, M.Ed., MUPP is a founding board member of GPARE, the parent non-profit for The Bridge Way School, Pennsylvania’s only recovery high school. Since September of 2011, Rebecca has been the Head of School at Bridge Way School. Prior to that, she was a Middle School Division Head for a local Friends School for 11 years. Rebecca has worked with non-profits for over 20 years in secondary and post-secondary education as well as small business development. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Unity Recovery, the Advisory Board of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services for the city of Philadelphia, an advisory panel for the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, and the national board of the Association of Recovery Schools. Rebecca earned her Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Master of Education from Temple University. She is the 2012 recipient of Caron Treatment Center’s Brian H. Early Community Leadership Award.

Erin Bernard

Erin Bernard (B.A. Journalism, M.A. History, M.A.T. English Grades 7-12) joined The Bridge Way School in February 2023. With an array of experience in secondary education, postsecondary learning, and public history, Erin is devoted to serving our city’s youth and addressing issues of urban crisis with the core values of love, action, resilience, and empathy. She is a seasoned teacher leader, grassroots humanities innovator, and trauma-informed educator who enjoys problem solving, building with communities, and service learning. Erin is a fierce advocate for people experiencing substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. She is an active scholar who problematizes how our education system can better mitigate barriers to attendance and engagement for alternative high school students in Philadelphia and beyond. Erin is thrilled to lead the Bridge Way team on a path of growth and possibility. Erin is a proud mom of three children engaged in Philadelphia’s public school system. She loves listening to vinyl records, gardening, and watching stand up comedy.