Send thanks to your principals today

Today is Principal Appreciation Day. Our principals do so much for our school communities each and every day, and we're incredibly grateful for their hard work and dedication. Send a note of thanks to your school principal today! 

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8: Send your gratitude virtually

Celebrate your child's teacher from a distance: send a free Teacher Appreciation virtual gift. All you need is access to a computer and let your creativity be unleashed. Here are just some ideas, but the sky's the limit! 
 
Send Virtual Flowers - Have your child provide a virtual breath of fresh air by drawing, painting or taking a picture of some flowers and emailing it to their teacher.
 
DIY Teacher Appreciation Collage/Card/Video - Create a virtual card or video from your child or collaborate and collect photos/videos from all the students in their class.
 
Here are some free tools you can use: 
https://spark.adobe.com/make/card-maker/
https://www.canva.com

Send a Shout Out - Shout Outs are shared with the teacher individually as well as shared online at mmsd.org/shoutout

We are stronger together! ¡Somos más fuerte unidos! Koom tes ua ke peb khov dua!

This May Day we not only recognize, but truly appreciate all of our immigrant families and their value and contributions to our community and our school district. As a district, we stand in solidarity with ALL immigrants, refugees, and first-generation students who continue in the fight for basic human rights and an equitable lifestyle especially in these times of uncertainty.

May 1st has traditionally been known in several countries as a day promoting workers' rights. In recent decades, May Day has incorporated the ongoing struggle for immigrants' rights as well. Many of us may recognize this day locally as a "Day without Latinos." As we stand with our Latino and Hmong students and families and local Latino and Hmong organizations, we want to make clear that we stand with ALL immigrants, our students of color organizations, immigrant advocacy groups and organizations, and ALL workers in our community not only on this historic day, but each and every day.

Our immigrant and first-generation students, their families, and our staff help diversify, cultivate, and strengthen not only our communities, but our minds and our hearts.

Here you can find our district's immigrant student and family resources

Yes we can! ¡Sí se puede!

How equity drives our decision-making during COVID-19 and at all times

Our district commitment to equity, specifically racial equity, has guided many of the decisions that we have made during COVID-19. We have embedded equity into our decisions by holding ourselves to a series of questions that our Equity Tool asks. This one page document was developed from the longer MMSD Equity Tool. The questions guide us to consider the students and families who are most impacted, the potential unintended consequences of our decisions and any plans we should be developing to mitigate those issues. 

We know that during complex times when information is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily or hourly basis we have to continue to honor the importance of responding quickly while also pausing long enough to incorporate equity into our decision making, and any feedback we are hearing along the way. There is no final destination per say to our equity work, but we want to share that it is central in all that we do, including through COVID-19. 

Some specific examples of decisions we have made with equity at the forefront include how we selected neighborhood meal sites, how we approached our grading policies, how we are working to get students devices and internet access, how to get instructional packets in multiple languages to families and how we developed our budget. 

MMSD Board of Education swears in three new members and makes history with officer appointments

During our Regular Board Meeting on Monday, April 27, three board members were sworn into office. Nicki Vander Meulen is beginning her second term with the Board, and Savion Castro will finish the 3rd year of Mary Burke's original term in 2021, then he will run again in 2021 for his first full term. Christina Gomez Schmidt joins the Board for the first time, beginning a three-year term in Seat 6. Board member information can be found here

This is a historic moment as our school board leadership is now entirely composed of strong leaders of color or leaders with disabilities. Congratulations to our new officers: President Gloria Reyes, Vice President Ali Janae Muldrow, Treasurer Savion Castro and Clerk Nicki Vander Meulen. 

Board approves three new projects in support of Black Excellence

We are excited to be collaborating with the community on a number of projects that advance and amplify Black Excellence. These newest projects that were lifted up thanks to the Black Excellence Think Tank and approved by the school board this week include:

  • Umoja Magazine's series of online writing workshops for youth
  • Urban Triage hosting workshops to give adults culturally relevant information on family dynamics, parenting styles, coping and healing during COVID-19
  • Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self-Determination organizing a variety of activities from June 15th through the 20th in celebration of Juneteenth together with families, youth and community members

You can hear more about these projects in remarks from Nichelle Nichols, Executive Director of Equity, Partnerships and Engagement, speaking in Wednesday's press conference.

Tune in to our press conference

As a reminder, we've been holding regular virtual press conferences, which is an opportunity for reporters to ask questions of the school board and administration. You can watch the conferences live on this channel. In this week's press conference, we answered questions about equity, device distribution, graduation plans, and more. 

Join us on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 6

We're collaborating with Public Health Madison & Dane County to address your concerns about coronavirus, part of our Coping During COVID-19 Facebook Live series. Join us for a live session on Wednesday, May 6 at 2:00 p.m. featuring MMSD's Lead Nurse, Kari Stampfli and Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator, Sarah Hughes of Public Health Madison & Dane County. Tune in as our healthcare leaders give insight on staying healthy and managing daily life, plus new updates on COVID-19 testing in Wisconsin and details on what Madison's lead public health agency is doing to keep you safe.

Ask your questions in the comment section during the presentation and our experts will answer them in real time. 
 
View our April 29 session here.

Hmong American Day Read Aloud

Hmong American Day Read Aloud is celebrated every year during the week of May 14. This year's HAD Read Aloud is Monday, May 11 to Friday, May 15. This event highlights and uplifts Hmong language, literacy, culture, and history.

In 2015, Sheng Lee, one of the district's Hmong Bilingual Resource Specialist, wrote a letter to then Mayor Paul Soglin seeking a resolution in recognition and honor of Hmong-Americans and their historical, cultural, and economic contributions to the U.S. and, more specifically, within the city of Madison. Since then, May 14th has been designated as Hmong-American Day in the city of Madison, which is also in alignment with other cities and states across the country.

We invite and encourage students, families, and community members of Hmong descent, those who identify as Hmong, and have Hmong language as part of their lives, to participate.

See the event on Facebook to learn more about this year's virtual read aloud and how you can get involved!

WiFi and internet access update

In Wednesday's press conference, we gave an update on device distribution and internet access. Briefly, over 20,000 devices are now in students' hands and we have a system in place to respond to devices in need of repair. 

We've identified 1900 households that still may need access to reliable internet, and we're having ongoing discussions with the City of Madison with the goal of making long-term changes to allow for sustainable access for all Madison students. 

In the shorter term, we are partnering with Madison Public Library to use their Dream Bus in the near future as a free WiFi hub, we've ordered more than 1800 wireless hotspots to be mailed to households, and we installed long-range (up to 500 feet) wireless access points at five of our school sites, chosen for neighborhoods that have the greatest concentration of students without internet access: Leopold, Mendota, Toki/Orchard Ridge, Lincoln and Falk. These are live now.

These wireless access points will allow staff and students to access MMSD wireless internet from outside the building using their MMSD issued device from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find more details, including social distancing guidelines that must be followed at these sites, here

You can learn more from Chad Wiese, Executive Director of Building Services, in his press conference remarks.

Memorial and East students take 1st and 3rd place in Msg2Teens competition

Congratulations to our students at James Madison Memorial High School and Madison East High School who participated in the WMSN Msg2Teens PSA competition! This competition, which has been held for the last eleven years, gives high school students in the Madison and surrounding areas the opportunity to write, produce and record a video PSA about safe driving. Video submissions are judged by a panel who narrow it down to the top five, then students and the community vote for the winner.
 
Memorial's video, created by students Noah G, Kenneth R, Isabel S, William Y., came in first place featuring the powerful message "Your achievements took a lifetime. Don't lose them in one text."
 
East's video was created by Niko E, Nick H, Frederick D, UJ B., and came in third place. Its message is "Don't let one impulse decision end it all."
 
Each student who participated was awarded prize money, and the schools received grants in the amount of $1500.
 
Both videos can be viewed on the Fox 47 website here

Planning for in-person commencement gathering at a later date

Earlier today we sent an update on graduation planning to our senior class, their families, and high school staff notifying them that details will be coming next week on virtual graduation and that we are now planning to have an in-person gathering in celebration of the class of 2020 at a later date once it is safe to do so.

Reminder: The 2020 Census is underway

The 2020 Census is underway, and the most important and safe thing you can do is respond online, by phone, or by mail. It has never been easier to respond to the 2020 Census. Our community gets resources based on census population counts, that help pay for schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, and more. An accurate and complete census helps businesses, community leaders and elected officials make informed decisions every day. Remember that your data is protected and it's confidential. Federal law protects your responses, which cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration agencies, or housing authorities. Help make sure everyone in Madison is counted by completing your form and reminding friends and family to complete theirs. Fill out your form online at my2020census.gov #MadisonCounts

Support MMSD and MSCR through the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools

To support the unique needs of MMSD and MSCR during the COVID-19 crisis, please consider a gift through our fundraising partner, the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools. To learn more, visit this page.

Keep checking our website

Make sure to continue to check mmsd.org/COVID-19 for the latest updates on virtual learning, food and device distribution and more. The site is updated every day.