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December 23, 2020
Dear Milwaukee Public Schools Community,
As the holidays approach and winter break is on our minds, I want to take this moment to reflect on the current year and to celebrate the accomplishments and hard work that has happened throughout Milwaukee Public Schools.
Despite the unbelievably unique situation 2020 has brought us, MPS has been up to incredible things. Here are a few of the many great highlights that happened this semester.
- Following tremendous hard work and dedication to complete their courses in Summer Academy, more than 90 students graduated this summer. We are also planning for our first virtual winter graduation ceremony on Saturday, January 23, 2021.
- For the first time, our New Educator Institute was held virtually, with nearly 100 new teachers in attendance for five full days of professional development to prepare for their first year in MPS.
- MPS educators took part in extensive professional development to facilitate online learning and shared creative ideas to keep students engaged.
- Parents and guardians joined us for three information sessions to get ready for the school year and learn about online tools, academic expectations, and discover family supports.
- We welcomed the rising class of 2024 and invited them to participate in Freshman Bridge. This year’s Freshman Bridge included virtual tours, meeting school staff, team building, distribution of instructional materials, Chromebooks, school gear, and masks. Incoming kindergarten and sixth-grade students were also welcomed to their schools during this week through individual school-based activities and outreach.
- We celebrated the start of the new school year by inviting students, families, and the community to take part in the Early-Start and Traditional-Start Welcome Back-to-School Spirit Weeks. School communities and fans of MPS had fun and shared their school spirit on social media.
- We ensured that our students had healthy and accessible meals by distributing close to 500,000 nutritious meals this semester at our 50 Stop, Grab, and Go sites. We also added a fresh fruit and vegetable program and winter break meal bundles. We are excited to start the new year by distributing breakfast, lunch, and dinner starting Monday, January 4, 2021.
- We celebrated having automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in our schools for 15 years. MPS currently has 225 AEDs throughout the district, with at least one in each of 156 school sites.
- Students from Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA) captured six coveted places in an all-state vocal ensemble sponsored by the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA).
- After several years of planning, design, and approval, along with an extensive pilot program, we expanded the opportunity for high school students to now earn the Seal of Biliteracy. This spring, a group of graduating seniors from the class of 2020 became the first recipients of the Seal after completing criteria through the pilot program.
- Now in its second year offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme, Casimir Pulaski High School expanded its IB program to add Diploma and Career Programmes. Pulaski is one of eight IB schools within MPS.
- During Computer Science Education Week (CSEd Week), student ambassadors from MPS schools offered presentations and demonstrations for students and staff in MPS on the Day of Code.
- State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor named five Wisconsin educators finalists for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Among those finalists was Lois Womack, 4th/5th-grade math teacher, at Marvin Pratt Elementary School. Superintendent Taylor also recognized five exemplary Wisconsin educators for being named the 2021 Wisconsin Teachers of the Year. Susan Richardson, of Milwaukee German Immersion School and Koren Jackson, of Transition High School, were named. Congratulations!
- Carver Academy held an attendance contest in October through which every student with an attendance of 95 percent or better could earn a pizza. School staff and teachers volunteered to deliver pizzas around the city. A total of 84 students received a free pizza for their hard work.
- With Winter Youth Sports postponed, in an effort to keep student-athletes active and engaged, Milwaukee Recreation Youth Sports Office created alternative opportunities for our students.
- We continue to engage and partner with our MPS families to help guide decision making as we progress through the school year.
I simply could not list all of the amazing things that have happened so far, but I also wanted to highlight how we all tackled working, teaching, and learning in ways we never had to even think about before. Because of the dedication of our teachers, administrators, all staff, and the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, MPS completely changed the way we educate students in an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy. I thank you all for working towards this incredible endeavor and ensuring our students succeed. I am reminded each day of how MPS Proud I am to serve as superintendent.
I would also like to recognize our partners who provided thoughtful donations of all kinds to our district this year, such as:
In light of the holiday spirit, I ask you to remember and keep in mind families, friends, and neighbors in our community who may be less fortunate and are facing disheartening circumstances. With the additional stressors that this year has brought, please also remember to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
However you celebrate, I send you warm wishes this holiday season and into a brighter 2021.
Have a happy and healthy winter break!
Dr. Keith P. Posley
Superintendent of Schools