Dear MMSD Families and Community, 

First, I want to thank you for your patience and willingness to collaborate with us as we navigate through the various stages of the pandemic. We transitioned our students and staff to virtual learning nearly a year ago, and you have been with us every step of the way. We truly appreciate your support.

We are very excited to soon be welcoming our kindergarten students who will have chosen in-person instruction on March 9th, our first and second graders on March 16th and our early learners in 4K on March 23rd. Virtual learning will still be an option for all students who want to continue learning from home. 

Our staff has been very busy preparing for our reopening and we miss our students!

Earlier today, our 4K-5 families received a request asking them to indicate whether their student(s) will be returning to in-person learning or remain virtual. The information gathered from this request will help us best prepare and plan for the safest transition possible. We encourage you to return this very important information, or you can submit the information by following this link to it complete online.

We know you will have many questions, and we encourage you to visit our MMSD reopening page for more information. Your school principal has already started coordinating parent meetings online to speak with individual school communities and answer your questions. Please stay in touch with your school leaders as they continue to connect with you weekly about reopening plans.

As we look ahead to an exciting and safe start to in-person learning, I want you to know we are in this together and collectively, we can do amazing things to support our students, staff and community. #MMSDFamily

Sincerely, 
 
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Superintendent

Parents of Black Excellence Build Community at Chávez Elementary

Deseré Mayo, a local artist and mother of three boys was waiting outside after school with dozens of other César Chávez Elementary parents, eager to greet her two young sons. When she noticed another Black mother standing nearby, she was intrigued; seizing the opportunity to connect with another Black parent like herself. 

Deseré introduced herself to April Kigeya, a West High and UW-Madison graduate and mother of four. The two of them shared a friendly conversation that day and kept in touch. 

Soon after meeting, Deseré discussed an idea with April. She wanted to bring Black families together in an effort to make Chávez Elementary a more welcoming environment for her children and other students of color facing challenges relating to race and diversity. 

It turns out, April shared Deseré's desire to unite Black families. 

Together, the two women worked closely with Chávez Elementary's principal, Kelly Lawler, to organize a parent group dedicated to celebrating Black culture and uplifting Black scholars. 

They're called, 'Parents of Black Excellence,' the first ever Black parent affinity group at César Chávez Elementary School. 

This is their story.

Congratulations to the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Outstanding Young Person Awardees!

For 37 years, The Urban League of Greater Madison has celebrated the achievements of outstanding middle and high school students across Dane County in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their annual Outstanding Young Person Awards.

During Black History Month, we are proud to recognize all of the MMSD scholars who received awards this year for displaying incredible commitment to academics and involvement in their local communities. We are also grateful for our longstanding partnership with The Urban League of Greater Madison. Learn more and view the winners.

MMSD teachers engage students in open, honest discussions about racism

Reading the book, Stamped, couldn't be more timely as our country faces multiple crises. "Stamped discusses what happens when racism arrives in this country, giving our students the opportunity to learn what many of us never learned in history class." 

During Black Lives Matter in Schools Week of Action (Feb 1-5), MMSD DLI teacher Karli Wagner and educators at Cherokee Heights Middle School led a school-wide reading of Stamped to engage students in open, honest discussions about racism. Many teachers across the district are joining Karli in challenging their students to think about their own personal perspectives and experiences about race throughout the month of February and beyond.

Drop-in tutoring available for students in grades 3-5 

The Regent Tutors, in partnership with MSCR, is offering free drop-in tutoring sessions via Zoom for students in grades 3-5 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 3:30-5pm. The tutoring is offered by our bright scholars in West High School and can help with subjects such as math, reading, science, and history. View the flyer.

Social-emotional wellbeing & mental health virtual event

Are you feeling stressed or anxious during this time? Is your child struggling? Join the Family, Youth & Community Engagement Department on Saturday, February 20 from 10-11am for their Facebook Live
Family Information Session on Social Emotional Well-Being and Mental Health. We'll be having a conversation with a lineup of special guests who will be offering support and resources to you and your family. Join us at
facebook.com/fycemmsd for the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Stay online after the event and join us for a free virtual summit for families!

This free, virtual summit for families and caregivers is Saturday, February 20 from 11am-1:30pm and is focused on building family power and organizing for families for the schools and education all our children deserve. We will spend time meeting other families/caregivers discussing issues of shared concern (e.g. testing, anti-racist schooling, virtual schooling, special education) and organizing around these issues.

Save the date: Additional facilities feedback sessions

We have a couple more facilities feedback sessions scheduled this month to continue to gather your input on the facilities projects funded by the 2020 referenda. We hope you join us: 

  • February 23, 5:30-6:30pm on the MMSD Facebook page to discuss the new elementary school we're building in the Rimrock Rd area
  • February 24, 6:00-7:00pm with the Madison Mommas on Zoom

Learn more at mmsd.org/future-ready.

Advanced Learning Advisory Committee News

As members of the MMSD community, you may be interested in our Advanced Learning Advisory Committee (ALAC). The next meeting will be Thursday, February 25. The meetings are from 6:00-8:00 on zoom. Please register for our next meeting. These meetings are used to listen and learn with our Advanced Learning families, community and others as we work on strategic plans, talent development and ways to get access to high, rigorous instruction to all MMSD learners.

FAFSA Help is on the way! College Goal Wisconsin is offering Spring FAFSA Workshops

Do you have questions on how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? The FAFSA is the form a student needs to complete to apply for financial aid, such as grants and loans. Plan to attend College Goal Wisconsin virtually to receive free information and assistance on completing the FAFSA. Register here and view the flyer for more information. #mmsdcollegebound 

2021 Summer Semester - Continuation of Learning

Starting in the summer of 2021, we are intentionally creating another semester of school to occur in the summer; a continuation of learning, time for students to accelerate their learning and get on track for graduation to become college, career and community ready. We recognize that due to the disruption in learning when schools closed in March 2020 and the ongoing virtual learning challenges, that many of our students have missed instruction which highlights the need for high quality, targeted instruction for our students who need it the most beyond the regular school year. Click here for more information and check out the Summer Semester Website for updates.

Enrollment for 4K and Kindergarten will be virtual this year

Enrollment for four-year-old kindergarten (4K) and five-year-old kindergarten for the 2021-22 school year is happening soon! Online enrollment for 4K and kindergarten programming will open on February 22, and elementary school staff will be available via Zoom on Monday, March 1 from 2pm - 6pm, to assist you in finalizing the process, including the verification of any paperwork you may need to submit. 
 
Enrollment is for families who have NOT previously attended a 4K or early childhood program through MMSD. Learn more about 4K at mmsd.org/4k and kindergarten at mmsd.org/kinder.

MMSD Alumni Stories: Meet Reuben Sanon

"I've been able to thrive in this city but a lot of people who look like me have not," Sanon comments. "As such my main focus [as deputy mayor] will be connecting our most marginalized communities to the immense amount of power and resources that we have here so that they'll thrive in a community that serves them and is shaped by them."

West High class of 2011 alumnus Reuben Sanon joined Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway's office as deputy mayor in November 2020. He was selected for the position by Mayor Rhodes-Conway as a result of his "enthusiasm, background, experiences and love of Madison."

Read the full story on the Madison Public Schools Friends & Alumni Network.

Tune in and participate during this month's radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? 

During the radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? on Thursday, February 18, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., we will present these topics: 4K program and its importance, enrollment, 4K Full Day Pilot Program and an Update on the projects of MMSD Future Ready. We hope you'll tune in to La Movida Radio, 94.5 FM or 1480 AM or call (608) 321-1480 to participate. Listen to the promo.

Community Events

There are many amazing opportunities throughout the Madison community for our students and families. View some of these opportunities here

If you are interested in seeing your organization's event on this page, read about how you can do that here

In case you missed it

We are beginning a phased return to in-person instruction, starting with Kindergarten students, March 9th. Read the full letter. 

We launched this year's virtual Read Your Heart Out event on February 5, featuring live interviews, an African drumming performance and Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb" poem recited by MMSD elementary school students. You can view this virtual celebration here.

The 2020-21 school year calendar has been revised for the third quarter and is available at mmsd.org/calendar. The only changes were the removal of high school early release on Mondays, and updating 4K/5K Enrollment to be virtual. The 2021-22 school year calendar will be made available by the end of March.

Project Recovery has a FREE, confidential, local support and education line to help people cope with COVID-19 and this stressful time. Learn more.

MMSD is working with the Madison Public Libraries to ensure all students have access to books during this pandemic. Learn more about how your students can get library books.

Special Education updates and resources for families during virtual learning

The Hmong Institute has a COVID-19 Resource Line, set up to close the language barrier gap and provide bilingual and bicultural support to support Southeast Asian and other refugees in Wisconsin affected by COVID-19 to better access resources and navigate the systems in their communities. Learn more about this in EnglishHmongKhmer or Tibetan

If you haven't already, you can opt in to receive texts from the district and your school(s) by texting the word YES to 67587 from your mobile device. 

We have 40 neighborhood food sites set up around Madison offering curbside meal service for all children 18 years of age or younger. Each site has pickup one day per week. Visit this page to learn more.

If you need a device exchanged, please contact your school's LMTS. Learn more about the process here

How to contact your school: While we're virtual, we want to make sure you're still able to contact your school. There are currently three ways you can get in touch with your school. Find them here.

How to get help during COVID-19, from Public Health and the City of Madison: View the "How To" community resources pages here.

The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools has been raising emergency relief funds and collaborating with community partners to ensure our MMSD and MSCR students, families and staff have the resources and financial support to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.   

NAMI Dane County has a free support line from 8:30-4:30pm and provides numerous support groups and classes for individuals impacted by mental health needs. Learn more

The City of Madison recently launched a free Financial Resources Hotline to help residents navigate financial issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial Navigators provide free guidance, over the phone, to help residents access available programs and services to manage income loss and other financial concerns they may be experiencing.

Previous family newsletters are archived on this page on our website.