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Singer Valerie June mentors MPS students

Valerie June with Lancaster students

Students from Lancaster Elementary School had the best seats in the house yesterday at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall when singer Valerie June invited them to the sound check of her performance during her world tour. Fifteen 3rd through 8th graders and their teachers received a backstage tour, a look around the dressing rooms where musicians get ready for a concert, and a very special preconcert performance that had the students on their feet and dancing.

Four MPS schools – Lancaster, Roosevelt, Sherman and Dr. King, Jr. – are part of Turnaround Arts Milwaukee. Turnaround Arts is a national program that empowers high-need schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs; arts integration across subject areas; arts resources; musical instruments; and high-profile artist mentors. These implementations are proven strategies to help address broader school challenges and close the achievement gap.

Valerie June says her role as a Turnaround Arts mentor to Lancaster students is her “most important gig.” She is giving the school her first electric guitar, “Big Red,” so students can learn to play it. June also plans to work with the students to write and perform a song together.

Some of Milwaukee’s top arts partners are participating in the Turnaround Arts effort, including Cre8MKE, Danceworks, First Stage children’s theater and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts. In addition, UWM and Cardinal Stritch, through a grant from the Margaret Cargill Foundation, are partnering with MPS to recruit, train and provide ongoing support for MPS arts educators.

Nationally, Turnaround Arts is made possible through a collaboration of government agencies, nonprofit partners and generous corporate and private foundations. Locally, the MPS Foundation coordinated support from the Herzfeld Foundation and the Zilber Family Foundation for the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Turnaround Arts effort.

For more information on Turnaround Arts, visit our website.

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About Milwaukee Public Schools

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 2016 earned $51+ million in scholarships; and
  • MPS is home to eight 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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