Dear Families,

I hope this message finds you and your family well. As this newsletter shows, there is a lot happening around the school district, and I hope you find the information it contains helpful.

I want to start by saying that this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week and I am so proud to celebrate the amazing teachers we have in MMSD.

Our teachers work hard each day to contribute toward our goals of college preparedness, career readiness, and the very best outcomes for all of our students. It's never too late to thank your teacher. This week we have seen many creative ways to celebrate our teachers and staff, a few of them I would like to share with you:

Also this week, we announced our plans for a virtual graduation that will be broadcast live on WISC Channel 3, preceded by a special graduation edition of News 3. In addition, Madison Magazine will be publishing a special edition dedicated to celebrating the class of 2020 recognizing each student. There will also be a public celebration campaign that includes student recognition on several digital billboards located around the City of Madison. As part of our plan to honor the class of 2020, there will also be an in-person celebration event later in the year with more details to come. Our announcement on graduation can be found by viewing the MMSD press conference.

On another note, I also want to remind you that we need your feedback on our 2021-21 Draft Preliminary Budget Proposal, which was developed through guidance from our Board and input from staff, parents and the community. Learn more about the budget and view the draft at mmsd.org/budget. Your voice is very important to us, and we ask that you give your feedback here

Lastly, on a very sad note, many of you may have heard of the recent passing of Milele Chikasa Anana, a community leader, social worker, activist, influential publisher of UMOJA Magazine and the first African American to serve on the MMSD Board of Education. In honor of her, the Madison Metropolitan School District Black Excellence and UMOJA Magazine have introduced the Milele Arts Scholar Program. To learn more about this program, you can click here. To learn more about Milela and her contributions to the City of Madison you can follow this link. I know I speak for all of us in the MMSD family when I say she will be deeply missed. 

Thank you,

Jane Belmore
Interim Superintendent

In case you missed it on social

Here are just a few things that happened on district and school social media this week: West High School is using their Facebook page to honor the Class of 2020, Franklin Elementary is showing us what a 'day in the life of virtual learning' looks like for their students (see Kindergarten and 2nd grade) and some of our seniors sent video shout outs to teachers and staff who have had a positive impact on them.

Find links to district and school social media channels at mmsd.org/social-media.

Alexis Dean inspires students through music and arts

Music, dance, poetry and hip-hop - Alexis Dean knows that performing arts is hands-on and has immediate rewards for his students at Mendota Community School. Before the district school closures, we caught up with LEX to discuss how he uses the art of music to foster creativity and empower his young scholars. Watch the video.

You're Invited: Youth Voices Project

The Office of Equity, Partnerships and Engagement in collaboration with the Black Excellence Think Tank is partnering with UMOJA Magazine to highlight youth voices during the coronavirus pandemic. We're inviting our MMSD scholars to participate in various media arts workshops followed by a publication of their amazing literary arts contributions in a special Youth Voices edition of UMOJA Magazine. In a time when attention and news is focused on the adult experience, we want to uplift  the stories and experiences of our youth during these stressful and uncertain times. Youth in grades 6-12 will have the opportunity to participate in the following workshops: News Reporting, Visual Arts, Poetry/Spoken Word and Storytelling. While the workshops are specific for middle and high school students in grades 6-12, students of all ages are encouraged to submit work to be considered for the magazine. All submissions are eligible for prizes and raffles with their submissions. Register today for these enriching and engaging media arts workshops followed by a publication of our scholar's original work in a special edition of UMOJA Magazine. Register here

The deadline to register for these media arts workshops is Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Please contact ycraig@umojamagazine.com with your questions. 

Thriving Through Adversity Workshop Series for Families

The Office of Equity, Partnerships and Engagement in collaboration with the Black Excellence Think Tank is partnering with Urban Triage to present "Thriving Through Adversity Workshop Series," a collection of workshops for families and MMSD staff featuring support and advocacy for Black families in the community. To support families through the pandemic, Urban Triage, Inc. will focus support specific to the needs of Black families created by COVID-19. Urban Triage, Inc., will be hosting twelve interactive  workshops in the upcoming weeks to provide support and answer your questions. Learn more about the workshops offered

O'Keeffe Virtual Art Club features local artists, invites all MMSD middle school students to join!

During our time away from school, O'Keeffe Middle School art teacher Kati Walsh extended the O'Keeffe Art Club to include students from all of the Middle Schools within MMSD. Her student teacher Selia Salzsieder has been connecting with students in the Art Club through weekly prompts and Zoom meetings.

This week, the MMSD Virtual Art Club started a new visiting artist series where local artists will share their artwork and interact with students on Zoom. This is a fantastic way for kids to make connections and gain valuable insight into what it means to be a working artist. These artists represent a wide variety of mediums and will be sharing their work, creative process, and at-home studios with our students. 

The students will have the opportunity to interact every week with local artists on Monday (11-11:30) & Thursday (12-12:30) Zooms from now until June 4th! You can view the full line-up here. This opportunity is open to any MMSD student who would like to participate by filling out this Google Form. Contact Selia Salzsieder with any questions.

Reminder: Next week is Hmong American Day Read Aloud

Hmong American Day Read Aloud is celebrated every year during the week of May 14. This year the event is being held virtually and celebrated throughout the entire week of May 11 to May 15. This event highlights and uplifts Hmong language, literacy, culture, and history. 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 or view some more videos on our website

Temporary food benefits for children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is currently working on identifying students that have qualified for Free or Reduced-priced school meals at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program so they can receive P-EBT. The P-EBT is a temporary supplemental income to be spent on food for students that have qualified for free or reduced-price school meals.  DHS applied for and was awarded funding from USDA to distribute P-EBT to students that qualify. This is an additional benefit to the free school meals available from MMSD.

  • If you have a question about Pandemic EBT or P-EBT , which are temporary food benefits for children who usually get free or reduced-price school meals, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services webpage for more information.
  • If you have a child or children who qualified for free or reduced-price meals this year or attend a CEP school, you do not need to take any action at this time. If you participate in a state benefit program, such as FoodShare or BadgerCare Plus, the benefits will automatically be provided on your Quest card if you have one or on a P-EBT card that you will receive in the mail. 
  • You will be notified by approximately May 21 if you are getting benefits.
  • All students who attend a CEP school will receive the P-EBT benefit regardless of free or reduced-price eligibility status.
  • The WI Department of Health Services (DHS) has compiled a list of all free and reduced-price students in Wisconsin to provide benefits to. The list is not all-inclusive and may accidentally exclude those that qualify. To ensure all qualifying students receive the P-EBT benefits, DHS has created an online application. A link will be posted to the MMSD Food & Nutrition Department website.
  • The Health and Human Services webpage will be updated as more information becomes available
  • Please do not contact your school or Food & Nutrition Department at this time as they will not have any additional information.

Need support with your Chromebook?

The Family, Youth & Community Engagement (FYCE) Department has produced three videos to support you with your Chromebooks. The video topics are logging into your Chromebook, switching user accounts and accessing Gmail. These videos can be found on the FYCE Facebook Page.

Reminder: WiFi access points at schools

We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure all students can access the internet for virtual learning. In addition to the existing options, most recently we've installed Wireless Access Points (WAPs) at Leopold, Lake View, Mendota, Toki, Orchard Ridge, Lincoln and Falk. 

These WAPs will allow staff and students to access MMSD wireless internet from outside the building using their MMSD-issued device. These WAPs will not allow access to the internet using a non-MMSD device. Wireless internet will be available from 8 am-5 pm seven days a week at these WAPs, and the range is up to 500 feet from the buildings. Learn more, including important reminders about social distancing at our WAPs.

Seniors: Sign up for important college reminder texts

To support recent graduates through the transition to college, encourage your senior student to sign up for texts from MMSD counselors (parents can sign up too). Students will receive approximately 15 text messages throughout the summer reminding them of important next steps, and counselors will be available to respond to text messages and meet with students/families when needed. Their information will not be shared with anyone. 

The following are examples of what counselors will support students with: 

  • Applying for and obtaining financial aid
  • Responding to unanticipated college-related expenses
  • Balancing the challenges of life, work and college planning
  • Completing required college paperwork
  • Communicating with their colleges
  • Connecting students to appropriate resources and supports at their college. 
  • Supporting a change in plans due to COVID 19

Sign up here.

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 our 2020 graduation plans -- both virtual and in-person celebrations -- as well as budget, summer school staffing and our May 13 professional development day.

Join us on Facebook Live on May 14 for our next Coping During COVID-19 session

Join us for our next live session Thursday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m. on Managing Your Money in Uncertain Times, part of our Coping During COVID-19 Facebook Live series. While your health is the most important thing to keep in mind, you might also be concerned about the economy and your financial wellness. That's why MMSD is collaborating with Summit Credit Union to ensure you get the money management tips and tools needed to help you better understand your personal finances. You'll hear from MMSD's Director of Family, Youth and Community Engagement Angela Fitzgerald Ward and Summit Credit Union Financial Education Specialist, Amy Crowe. Together, they'll walk you through knowing where you stand, using what you have, saving, budgeting and changing your financial habits to get you through uncertain times. Ask your questions in the comment section during the presentation and our experts will answer them in real time. 
 
You can view our live session from Wednesday, May 6 here. featuring MMSD's Lead Nurse, Kari Stampfli and Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator, Sarah Hughes of Public Health Madison & Dane County. 

Take the 'Move it Madison' Challenge!

MSCR and Madison Parks are excited to continue to connect our community with a wide variety of activities. The 'Move It Madison' Challenge began on May 1st and features Madison Parks & MSCR happenings, self-care challenges, environmental pursuits and methods to be active while having fun! The goal is to complete all 30 activities by midnight on May 31.  

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.