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Madison Metropolitan School District

MMSD Superintendent, Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Reflects on Last Two Years

With only four weeks left in the 2021-22 school year, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent, Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, reflected on his last two years during several speaking engagements over the past several days, including events held by the Madison Public Schools Foundation, Madison365, MMSD’s Breakfast with Champions, and the Association for Government Accountants. 

Facing unprecedented challenges, including a worldwide pandemic, nationwide staff shortages, and navigating significant state funding shortfalls for public education, under Dr. Jenkins’ leadership, the district continues to make steady progress. “Despite there being difficult decisions with tremendous complexities, throughout it all, our school community has kept students and staff at the center, and we are beginning to see it pay dividends,” said Dr. Jenkins.  

Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Cynthia Green, agrees, saying the 2021-22 school year has been one of progress at many levels. “Understandably, there was much attention given to issues like the pandemic, while significant progress in other areas was made without a lot of fanfare,” said Green. “Accomplishments like the district’s historic investment (by unanimous board vote) in two new K-5 reading curricula and continuing full-day 4K; early literacy and beyond initiatives aligned to the science of reading; and middle school daily world language programs, all of which put the district on an exciting course toward a new age of accelerated learning and student achievement.”

Associate Superintendent of Middle Schools, Dr. Angie Hicks, echoed Green’s assessment. “One significant accomplishment we cannot overlook is the fact we were able to keep our schools open and our scholars learning in-person,” said Dr. Hicks. “The district never budged from its student-centered approach; even taking it to a higher level by providing tiered mental health support, including lowering the student-to-social worker ratio; and connecting more students to personalized program opportunities for post-secondary success.” 

After two consecutive years of facing unprecedented challenges, it was the personal achievements of students and staff Dr. Jenkins was most proud of. “Despite distractions and challenges, our scholars kept learning and staff kept growing, making this school year one of notable personal achievements,” said Dr. Jenkins. “The year is full of many great stories, like violinist Momo Fredrickson from Hamilton Middle School. This amazing MMSD scholar placed first in the prestigious Midwest Young Artists Conservatory of the Walgreens National Concerto Competition - and recently, played as a soloist at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at Northwestern University. Momo is just one of many amazing scholars we are so proud of, who walk through our school doors each day.”

Among other notable students and achievements highlighted by Dr. Jenkins included:  

  • Gordon Allen and Brandon Anderson, East High School, QuestBridge full scholarship recipients 

  • Ananya Krishna, Memorial High School, named Presidential Scholar, US Department of Education

  • Andrew West from La Follette High School, a Gates full scholarship recipient

  • Leani Tell, a brilliant Sandburg student with a disability, who learns through robot technology

  • East High School’s Isa Saiz, and West High’s Marena Fox Baker, both Native American Student Association leaders, led an initiative to hold Land Acknowledgements for the Ho-Chunk People

  • Mr. Hopp’s entire 4th grade class (Room 39) at Stephens Elementary for their incredible work to create a book on the ABC's of Math presented to the superintendent  

  • Frank Allis Elementary student Za'Marion Wallace, for his high levels of maturity, responsibility, and self-advocacy, and making all of us better people by knowing him and being around him  

Despite complications with the pandemic and critical staff shortages plaguing school districts across the country, the district has also seen significant professional growth among staff. “We know the success of our students is based in large part on our world-class educators and personnel who make our schools what they are,” added Deputy Superintendent of Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “Strategic investments in staff are among the best investments a school district can make for their scholars, their future, and their community.”

Among the notable staff achievements for the 2021-22 school year include:

  • Marianne Matt, 2021 school counselor of the year

  • Dr. Anu Ebbe, 2022 Herb Kohl Principal Leadership award and Wisconsin Association of School Administers Secondary Principal of the Year

  • Alice Severson Huegel Teacher, Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Finalist

  • Steve Collins, Memorial, Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association 2022 Hall of Fame Inductee 

  • Alida LaCrosse, Wright Middle School, Madison Area Music Association, Teacher of the Year 

  • Jeremy Schlitz, 2021 Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association President’s Award.

Looking forward, thanks to unprecedented community support for its 2020 referenda, MMSD will also make considerable progress in many of its capital investments this summer. Significant updates to the district’s four comprehensive high schools and creating a new space for Capital High are all scheduled to kick-off in the upcoming months, in addition to continuing complete upgrades to 45 school playgrounds across MMSD.

“Together, all these achievements tell a story of resilience, commitment, and teamwork, making this school year a signature time of change and progress for our district, our scholars, and our schools,” said Dr. Jenkins. “Of course there is more work to be done and many challenges ahead, however, if this school year has taught us anything, it has taught us by leaning forward together, with our scholars at the center, we will have many more success stories to tell as we continue providing opportunities for everyone to graduate career, community, and college ready.”