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Madison Metropolitan School District

Leaning Forward Together

Leaning Forward Together

Dear MMSD Community,  

I would like to express my sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for your support as I begin my second year serving you as Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). Last year was not ideal, perfect, or easy; however, we persevered as a district and community. We recognize the decisions we continue to make on behalf of students and families are of no small consequence. You choose to send your children to our schools each day with a sacred trust to keep them safe, inspired, learning, and growing. It is a tremendous responsibility we hold close to our hearts, and an honor to share a partnership in their educational journey.

I have been thinking about our 27,000 scholars, and the story each one of them holds inside; every story equally deserving to be told and celebrated in a time when a pandemic has reshaped the human experience as we know it. Author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once wrote, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Our responsibility as a school community is to understand each student’s individual story, and guide our scholars in finding their voice as they become champions of the human spirit, purveyors of knowledge, crusaders for justice, and catalysts for change. I want to thank our parents and teachers who continue the hard work of educating and uplifting our young people during the pandemic. 

Welcoming our students back to in-person learning is the next chapter in “Leaning Forward Together,” and I would like to pause and acknowledge how our entire community helped us get to this point.

First, I want to thank our students. Wearing a mask and following safety guidance was tough last semester, nevertheless you adapted and did it! You watched out for each other, demonstrated kindness, and showed your humanity! Although we are starting the 2021-2022 school year with masks indoors, it is because of your resilience and sacrifice we are able to come together, learn in-person, and connect with friends, teachers, and staff. You have made our community proud.

I want to thank our families, community members, and partners for your unwavering support along with being a beacon of positivity and purpose in a time of great uncertainty. It is said that in the most difficult times, the truth of a community’s soul is seen. As such, you have stepped up where you can, and you have played a vital role in keeping our students, staff, and community safe and well.

In addition, I want to thank our Board of Education members for their incredible leadership and support. Your guidance has made our school community strong, and your focus on putting students at the center will have long-lasting impacts for our students, the district, and the community. 

Next, I would like to thank our dedicated staff across all levels and departments who have truly been extraordinary in helping to plan for a full reopening, devoting hours, days, and months to tackle changing guidance and the many challenges we faced:  

  • Our teachers and instructional staff, who on a daily basis, recognize the complexities of our children's lives during the pandemic, and work tirelessly to abate the myriad of obstacles and challenges they face to do what is right for our students;

  • Our special education staff who demonstrate passion in supporting our students with special needs, being their voice, and building a deep relationship of trust with parents;

  • Our custodial and maintenance staff who continue to work tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure our buildings are safe, clean, and welcoming learning spaces;

  • Our Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) staff, who, at the peak of the pandemic, continued to provide valuable services to our students and families; 

  • Our bus drivers and transportation staff who exhibit flexibility and determination in getting our students to school safely, on-time, and ready to learn;

  • Our food services staff who continue to focus on the nutritional health of our students, and served hundreds of thousands of meals throughout the pandemic;

  • Our school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and related service providers who have continued to focus on supporting the whole student including their social-emotional wellbeing;

  • Our volunteers, who are individuals from every corner of our community, and continue to come together to pitch in where they can help bridge the gaps; 

  • Our safety and security professionals who build connections with our students, and make the commitment to keep everyone in our buildings safe;

  • Our secretaries and executive assistants who ensure our schools are running smoothly, and keep staff, students, and the community informed;

  • Our substitute teachers and staff who continue to step up in support of students by filling roles necessary to keep our students learning; 

  • Our technology department who work to ensure our learners and staff are able to access educational resources, and for delivering almost 10,000 devices and 2,000 internet hotspots during virtual learning; 

  • Our principals and assistant principals who provide leadership and guidance which drives our schools and builds connections with our students and families;

  • Our central office and administrative site leaders and staff who continue to serve by providing outstanding year-round, district-wide support to our schools and departments; 

  • Our partner health experts who serve as a driving force in sharing science-based health and safety resources with our students, families, and community; and

  • All of the many non-profit community organizations, who came forward to support us in so many ways, you have shown all of us what being a community is really all about.  

Lastly, I would especially like to thank our incredible nursing and health services staff, led by former head nurse, Sally Zirbel-Donisch (Nurse Sally), who retired earlier this summer. Their leadership and commitment to their work throughout this pandemic had kept our families, staff, and community safe. Their efforts continue to have a significant impact on the safety of our entire community.

Now, as we look forward to the upcoming school year, we remain committed to writing our MMSD story with intentionality. As our district strives to live up to the goals outlined in our strategic framework, we do so with a focus on equity and excellence.

While “Leaning Forward Together,” let's renew our commitment to uplifting our shared humanity while elevating our collective efforts for a meaningful, productive school year.


Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Madison Metropolitan School District