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Paying it forward

julia deanFormer MPS special education teacher and school administrator Julia Dean took the opportunity during American Education Week to pay tribute to Irene Smith, who was her business education teacher at North Division High School.

Julia felt an immediate kinship to Ms. Smith when she learned that she was from the same town in Mississippi where Julia’s family originated. Her appreciation for her teacher grew with each passing day, as Ms. Smith instilled the importance of education and let her students know that they could count on her, if ever they needed her. “She embraced us, she supported us, and she always had such an affectionate smile,” remembers Julia.  “I still bump into her in the grocery store and always enjoy seeing her,” she added.

Julia continued her education at UWM and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then became a teacher herself. She spent about 12 years teaching students with special needs at MPS’ Pleasant View (now Carson) before finishing her career as a school administrator. “I’ve always seen myself as a servant,” said Julia.

Julia’s own children have chosen to work in service fields as well. One of her daughters is a nurse and the other works in child support services.

To Julia Dean, and her favorite teacher, Irene Smith – Happy American Education Week!


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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • More MPS students are taking college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses;
  • The MPS Class of 2018 earned $86+ million in scholarships; and
  • MPS is home to seven of the state and nation’s top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post.

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