Meet the three finalists for Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent

An assistant professor of educational leadership and two current superintendents are finalists to become the Madison Metropolitan School District's next superintendent. 
The public is encouraged to get to know these phenomenal candidates when they come to Madison for a "Day in the District." The Board of Education will host public sessions on January 14, 15 and 16 at East High School each night to give the MMSD community an opportunity to meet the finalists, ask them questions and provide feedback to assist the Board in making its final decision in February. We hope to see you there.
Dr. Matthew Gutierrez is superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District in Seguin, Texas; 35 miles east of San Antonio.  He was previously an assistant superintendent in Plano Independent School District since 2016, a district with 54,000 students. He has also served as an elementary principal and middle school assistant principal during his career. Dr. Gutierrez earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. 
Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York. After 14 years in the public classroom, Dr. Vanden Wyngaard earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University in Ohio. Within the program at Kent State, she worked in urban communities including Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown. Dr. Vanden Wyngaard was superintendent of the Albany City School District from 2012 - 2016. 
Dr. George Eric Thomas is the deputy superintendent and chief turnaround officer for the Georgia State Board of Education in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Thomas previously worked as chief support officer of the University of Virginia's turnaround program. He spent 17 years with Cincinnati Public Schools in the role as teacher, principal, turnaround principal coach, and most recently the chief innovation officer of CPS. Dr. Thomas earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois. 

The 2020-21 MMSD school year calendar is now available

The 2020-21 school year calendar is now available! You can view the calendar on our website.

Capital High students find creative outlet in hip-hop music club

Defined as a musical form of rhythmic poetry over powerful instrumental beats, the art of Rap music unites students at Capital High each month during Music Club, where they have a chance to discover what music means to them while expanding their appreciation for hip-hop culture. 
"This club is unique because it is truly interest-driven," says Joel Jarosky. Joel is the Experimental Learning/Academic Career Planning Coordinator at Capital. He is also the Music Club staff advisor. "All of the students in the club have a clear purpose for being there, and they are self-motivated by a shared goal to record their own music," he says.
Each month a musician, rapper or DJ from the community who is engrossed in hip-hop culture with expertise in music production, sound engineering and recording visits the Capital High Music Club.
Improving lyricism, enhancing stage presence, recording original tracks and learning about audio engineering are the goals for these young rap enthusiasts. While the work they are doing is personalized, it's part of a broader collaborative project where students will soon record their original music at the media lab inside Central Madison Public Library. 
The students rap about what's happening in their lives, taking the listener along for a journey through love and loss. The stories they tell are unique, but relatable; with a message about life they want to share with the world.

Opera Singer Michelle Johnson visits Wright Middle School Music Class

As seventh grade Wright Middle School students walked into their morning music class, they were greeted by an opera singer eager to share her experiences as a musician and delighted to accompany the class in singing the beloved classical piece, Dona Nobis Pacem. 

Michelle Johnson is a soprano singer who made her Madison Opera debut last year as Santuzza, the lead character of Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, or Rustic Chivalry. This summer she was featured at the July concert series, Opera in the Park at Garner Park in Madison, and is in town this month to sing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the annual A Madison Symphony Christmas. 

Michelle brought a message of inspiration to the choir students; sharing with them she wanted to be an educator like many of her family members. She started out singing gospel music at church in her hometown of Houston, Texas and was told she had a special gift by her high school vocal coach. 

"She asked me, 'What do you want to do?' and I thought I wanted to go into education. I come from a long line of educators. My mother, my father, my grandparents, everybody were teachers, principals, all that jazz," Johnson says. "But then she said, 'I really think that you have something special, and I think you should try out for some conservatories."

Students wanted to know what Michelle's favorite opera songs are. They were intrigued by all of the places she's traveled in the United States, Europe and beyond. Before the end of class, Michelle sang Dona Nobis Pacem with the choir and hung out to take photos with the energetic middle schoolers, answer more questions and meet the sixth grade choir scholars. 

A special Thank You to Alida Lacosse, Wright Middle School's music teacher, for working with the Madison Symphony Orchestra to bring performing arts to the classroom. 

Celebrate Smiles visits 40 schools this year

Access Community Health's 'Celebrate Smiles' dental program will visit all elementary schools and 8 middle schools this school year, serving approximately 3800 students. The program provides dental check-ups, preventive sealants, fluoride varnish and other needed treatment to kids who might otherwise go without dental care. The program will visit Lake View, Leopold and Lindbergh in January. Learn more and see the full schedule.  

High school sophomores: Apply now for Early College STEM Academy

Reminder: You can apply now to be a part of the Early College STEM Academy, a partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison College, designed to expand access to college courses in science, technology, engineering and math, and increase opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school at no cost to them or their families.

The application is available until January 25, 2020. Learn more and apply now on our website.

Eighth grade students: Enroll now in Personalized Pathways

In a Personalized Pathway, students learn in a close-knit community, set academic goals, explore college and career options and tackle challenging classes, all around a broad theme that's connected to the world around us. They will see how classes connect to each other and to the real world and discover possibilities and apply what they learn to life after high school. They'll map out and refine their path to success after high school by exploring their unique interests and goals and explore their passions and connect to the community. College visits, guest speakers, field trips, mock interviews, service learning, working with mentors, clinical experience and internships or apprenticeships are all a part of Pathways. These in-school and out-of-school experiences, tied to the broad pathways theme, help students prepare for college or their future profession. We combine all the great things about a traditional high school experience with a broad theme to take the learning deeper. Students will explore this theme as it connects to the world around us.

We hope your eighth grade student will sign up to be part of either our Health Services or our Information Technology & Communications pathway. Both of these options connect students with a smaller community within our schools and leverage the power of thematic connections for deeper learning. 

Enrollment is now open for Personalized Pathways. Submit your application now online.

Volunteer Tutor Training - January 23, 2020

All volunteer tutors or individuals interested in becoming a tutor are welcome to attend the District-wide Tutor Training workshop. The workshop trainings are led by MMSD staff and are open to all new and continuing volunteer tutors. The most effective tutors are those that have been specifically trained for the job. Being a tutor is different than being a mentor or a classroom volunteer. These workshops teach tutors specific strategies to build effective relationships, guide learning and promote student confidence and competence.
Workshop Topics include:

  • Basics of Literacy Tutoring, (K-5, 6-8)
  • Basics of Math Tutoring, (6-8)
  • How Tutors Support English Language Learners (K-5 & 6-12)
  • Tips and Tricks for Academic Support (K-5 & 6-12)
  • Understanding the Needs of Students Experiencing Homelessness
  • Support Student Learning through the Library (K-12)
  • Standard Response Protocols - School Safety

Training Workshop Schedule:
5:00-5:15 Registration
5:15-6:30 Workshop Sessions
6:30-6:45 Break
6:45-8:00 Workshop Sessions
Volunteers may choose which two workshops they would like to attend. The schedule will be provided at the workshop. No pre-registration is required for this training workshop.
Please note that the Culturally Responsive Volunteer training series will be held on different dates (part 1 on January 28; part 2 on February 26). For more details, visit our website
If you have any questions, please contact Laura Whitmore, MMSD Community Partnership Coordinator at (608) 663-4941.

Special Valentine's Day Planetarium Shows for Couples

This Valentine's Day, treat your special someone to a romantic tour of the universe at the MMSD Planetarium feature presentation "Romance Under the Stars." The beauty of the night sky brings out the romantic side in all of us. Explore the current night sky with your Valentine in the comfort of the planetarium. A flower and Madison Chocolate Company chocolate will be given to each couple. This event is rated AC -- Adult couples only. Only one person needs to register from each couple. This is a fundraiser for the MMSD planetarium. All proceeds go toward future upgrades. Register early, this popular show sells out quickly.
For the first two years, the goal of this event was to raise money for the MMSD Planetarium to replace the 50 year old seats.  We have reached this goal, the new seats have been installed, and we now have a new digital planetarium projector as well! Now we are moving on to our next goals!  All proceeds from this year's event will go toward improvements to the planetarium space.
The cost is $25 per couple for MMSD residents and $37.50 for non-MMSD residents. NOTE: Only one ticket is required per couple. The times are listed below. Get your ticket soon because they sell out fast

  • Thursday, February 13; 6:30-7:30 PM 
  • Thursday, February 13; 7:45-8:45 PM 
  • Friday, February 14; 6:30-7:30 PM 
  • Friday, February 14; 7:45-8:45 PM 
  • Saturday, February 15; 5:30-6:30 PM 
  • Saturday, February 15; 6:45-7:45 PM 
  • Saturday, February 15; 8:00-9:00 PM 

See Mars 1001 in the MMSD Planetarium

Follow along on a daring 1001-day mission to get an international crew to Mars and return them safely back to Earth. They will face many challenges and dangers along the way. This adventure teaches us about the obstacles future astronauts will have to endure, and showcases the beauty of the red planet. (Watch the trailer.) We will also explore the current night sky looking for planets and constellations.
Show dates:

  • Monday, January 13:  6:30-7:30 PM 
  • Tuesday, January 14:  6:30-7:30 PM  
  • Wednesday, January 15:  6:30-7:30 PM  
  • Wednesday, January 15:  7:45-8:45 PM  

Tickets are $2.50 and available online, by mail, or at the door. Buying tickets in advance is recommended. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. We accept walk-ins on stand-by for sold-out shows.

Foundation for Madison's Public Schools named in memorial gifts honoring champions for public education

In the season of giving and gratitude, the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools finds itself the recent recipient of gifts to honor the memory of school administrators, artists and advocates. The end of the year typically means a bump in contributions to nonprofits, including the Foundation. This year in particular, the Foundation is grateful to honor two champions of public education through the generosity of friends and family.

The Madison Elementary School Playground Fund 
When former Madison mayor Joel Skornicka volunteered in Madison's public schools, he noted the need for quality playground renovations and helped the Foundation establish a fund to support these updates in the city's elementary schools. When Skornicka passed away last month, family listed the Foundation as a recipient for contributions in Joel's memory, which will continue to support the Madison Elementary School Playground Fund. Joel also provided for a bequest in his estate plan that will increase the fund's balance generously.

The Don and Dana Hafeman Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund
A lifelong educator, Don Hafeman was a former Superintendent for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Through his enduring connection to public education, Don was integral in early activities resulting in the establishment of the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools in 2001. Upon Don's passing earlier in 2019, his sons, Doug, Dale and David, and their families wanted to fuel a scholarship fund at the Foundation with a generous $250,000 gift. The Hafeman scholarship will provide $10,000 in support to a graduating scholar from a Madison public school who may not otherwise have resources to attend a two- or four-year post-secondary program.

Hafeman's son, David, retired Dane County Deputy Sheriff, shared his father's own words on public education, "If knowledge is power, then education is the means to distribute that power equally." The Foundation was especially happy to establish this fund in sync with Don's birthday, December 9.

"The Foundation is honored to work with families on ways to honor their loved ones, to celebrate their passion for our public schools and to continue their legacy of support," says Melinda Heinritz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools, "Throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season, we are humbled by the opportunity to provide resources to Madison public schools in memory of outstanding educators and champions like Joel and Don."

The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools is an independent nonprofit that serves as the key philanthropic partner to the Madison Metropolitan School District. Since its founding in 2001, the Foundation has given over $20 million back to Madison's public schools through endowments, programs and the funding of novel school-based initiatives. The Foundation manages over 170 funds, similar to these most recently established, and spearheads community partnership programs including Adopt-a-School relationships, which give over $1 million in assistance to Madison's public schools each year. To learn more about the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools, visit