Dear MMSD Families,

Schools are the cornerstone of any community, and the meaningful connections we have with families are at the heart of what makes MMSD so unique.

Throughout this pandemic, it has been encouraging to see the many creative and effective ways we have all stayed connected to one another, while keeping each other safe. The strength of this connectivity is just one example of how resilient and supportive MMSD families have been during these incredibly challenging times.  

All of us at MMSD are thankful for these connections and support from our families; it demonstrates the power of community, and our collective resolve to overcome this pandemic together.    

In the spirit of celebrating the importance of community, and coming together to reimagine ways to stay connected during the pandemic, throughout this month, we're continuing to show gratitude and appreciation for each other with Gratitude Grams.  

Not familiar with what a gratitude gram is? Well, here is a link to a compilation of just some of my favorites that have been submitted so far. I encourage you to check it out. I also welcome your participation in this fun way of showing gratitude for each other.  

If your family or student would like to participate by submitting your own gratitude gram, you can find information on how below. Also, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see more.  

I look forward to seeing all the wonderful gratitude grams.

Sincerely, 

Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D
Superintendent  

Reminder: No school November 25, 26 and 27 

There is no school on November 25, 26 or 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our meal distribution schedule was adjusted to compensate for these days off. You can see the adjusted schedule here

Keep sharing your gratitude! 

Share your gratitude with our MMSD community with a video message. It can be directed at a person or a thing that brings you joy. We in turn will share on our social media outlets and amplify the joy with "Gratitude Grams" to our MMSD Community. We have loved seeing the Gratitude Grams you've submitted so far

How to take part: Email your short video (under 20 seconds) to communications@madison.k12.wi.us. Please state your name, school and grade if applicable. Use Zoom or your mobile device to record your message. Record by yourself or with a group.

Falk Elementary educators describe the value of virtual learning

First grade Falk Elementary teachers Aila Bretl and Nikki Quevedo love learning the intricate details about their student's lives they'd never known before. 
 
Whether it's a pet cat walking across the computer screen, a student proudly showing off a wiggly, loose tooth or a baby sibling cooing in the background, Aila and Nikki are connecting with their students in new and exciting ways because of virtual learning in MMSD. 
 
"Getting to know students and their families over Zoom and SeeSaw has been the highlight of virtual learning," said Nikki. "We get to meet the people they live with, see their pets, meet their grandmas and grandpas, and get a glimpse into their daily lives. This is something we might not get to do if we were teaching in person. It brings me joy and for this, I'm grateful."
 
Read the full story.

You are not alone: A reminder from LHS Choirs

In this double pandemic, it can be isolating. In this one-minute video, La Follette High School Choirs want to remind you that you are not alone, and that you are important. #MMSDfamily #LancerPride

Madison West High School Junior Maka Chikowero nominated for International Children's Peace Prize

West High Junior Maka Chikowero is one of 142 youth from 42 different countries to be nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize from KidsRights for her work with the nonprofit she founded. Her nonprofit, MTC Educate A Girl Inc., provides educational opportunities to girls in rural Zimbabwe. The International Children's Peace Prize is awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children's rights. We are proud of you, Maka!

Virtual Learning Tip of the Week: Get connected to your Chromebook with the Kajeet SmartSpot

We know students may still need help connecting the Kajeet SmartSpot to their Chromebook to complete their school assignments and homework. Here's a quick-how-to video on how to use your Kajeet portable Wi-Fi hotspot. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your school's Library Media Technology Specialist, or LMTS, for help with common SmartSpot questions. If families are no longer in need of hotspots, please return to one of our pickup locations, or HUBs

Do you have more questions or need help with virtual learning?

The Urban League of Greater Madison has partnered with MMSD to provide online learning support now through December for MMSD students. Drop in during the Urban League's daily office hours and speak directly with a family support specialist who will help you and your family with your questions about virtual learning at MMSD. For more information, reach out to Danielle Moore, Parent and Family Support Specialist at 608-729-1222 or dmoore@ulgm.org. The Urban League is also offering weekly online workshops for families on topics of student wellbeing and motivating your young scholar to succeed in virtual learning. To register for a workshop, visit ulgm.org/workshopregistration and for online help and resources, visit ulgm.org/parentresources

The Hmong New Year Celebration goes virtual

The beloved Hmong New Year Celebration that May Choua Thao and the Hmong Language Students of East High School put on every November is going virtual this year. Joining the East students in putting together virtual activities and videos will be Hmong students and their teachers from a variety of MMSD schools (including Lincoln, Midvale, Kennedy, Lake View, Hawthorne, Black Hawk, and Sherman). In addition to materials for classroom teachers, there are videos for anyone to watch (The Hmong New Year in Madison read by Sheng Lee; Hmong American Day Read Aloud).   

National Merit Scholar semifinalists recognized in special virtual meeting

The MMSD Board of Education held a special virtual meeting on Monday, November 16 to recognize 25 National Merit Scholar semifinalists. The semifinalist designation is based on high performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Less than one percent of the 1.6 million students nationwide who took the test were awarded semifinalist status. Congratulations to our semifinalists on their achievements! See the video.

Increased access to library books 

MMSD is working with the Madison Public Libraries to ensure all students have access to books during this pandemic. We are excited to be able to provide students with access to resources in a safe manner. This means students will not be allowed into buildings but should remain in vehicles and follow all guidelines for school distributions. There are a few different ways you can take advantage of this amazing resource: 

  1. Visit your school library. Check the schedule on our website to see which schools are participating and what their hours of operation are. Elementary schools will have a grab bag of books, sorted by theme or grade level. Middle and high school students can place a hold on a book of their choice and drop by to pick it up.
  2. All Madison libraries are offering curbside pick up for books, DVDs and magazines. See their website for hours of operation. If you don't have a library card, you can get a free virtual library card to gain access to ebooks and audiobooks online! 

Learn more about both of these options at mmsd.org/library-books.

Additional food distribution site added Wednesday evenings

We are now offering curbside meal box pickup from 4-6pm at Memorial High School on Wednesdays. Meal boxes will be available at Door #6, in the parking lot between Jefferson and Memorial. As a reminder, the schedule for our other 40 school sites that are offering free curbside meal service for all children 18 years old or younger can be found on this page.

We are dedicated to keeping everyone safe at our pick-up sites. In order to do this, we want to maintain a safe distance between our staff and your family.  Please follow these directions when picking up meals.

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, and service learning 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.

Early College STEM Academy Information Sessions - 10th Graders encouraged to apply!

The Early College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy is a partnership between MMSD and Madison College. As part of this dual enrollment program, students have access to college courses in STEM fields, and coursework will include options for transfer to a four-year college or university. The Academy is designed to expand access to college STEM courses and to increase opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school at no cost to them or their families.
 
Current 10th grade students are encouraged to apply, with a special emphasis on those that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM and STEM-related fields, including students who identify as female and students of color. The online application window will be December 14, 2020 - January 29, 2021. If you or your student would like to learn more about this opportunity please register for one of our online information sessions listed below.  Registering will give you access to a login for the event.  In the meantime, please contact your student's counselor with questions.

Learn more about the Early College STEM Academy from MMSD students who participated in the cohort in 2019. Hear about their experiences in their own words

Educator Effectiveness Plan for 2020-21

In MMSD, we know every child deserves excellent teachers and school leaders. Research suggests effective teachers are the most important school-related factor in a student's academic success, and our educators are committed to continuously improving to ensure the very best outcomes for our students. 

Each school year, educators prepare an Educator Effectiveness Plan to guide them through the year as they set and measure student learning goals and receive feedback and reflect on their practice through a formal evaluation process. 

This process typically evaluates educators on 22 different components. Given this unprecedented school year and the virtual environment we are in, we have worked collaboratively with staff, our principal leadership group and the teacher's union (MTI) to narrow our focus to the eight components we believe are the most important for engaging students, supporting their wellbeing and supporting racial equity as well as social justice. Watch this video to learn more

Reminder: Tune in to the November edition of our Spanish-language radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? tomorrow!

During the radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? on Thursday, November 19, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., we will have the opportunity to showcase the Cherokee Heights Middle School community to our Latino community. We will have some staff and students join in the dialogue, talk about virtual learning and tell us what makes their school unique and amazing. We hope you'll tune in to La Movida Radio, 94.5 FM or 1480 AM and participate. Learn more about our ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? show at mmsd.org/quepasa.

Seeking local scholarships

Does your organization or business have a scholarship fund for students? We'd like to advertise your local scholarship to our MMSD high school students. Please send information about the scholarships (Title,
Amount, Minimum Qualifications, Application Information, etc) to Mindy Willard, School Counseling and Transitions Coordinator.

MSCR Announces Friends of MSCR Auction: Proceeds support MSCR programs

The Friends of MSCR Auction is going on now -- virtually! Friends of MSCR has been raising money for MSCR since 2013, gifting more than $43,000! These funds support new program initiatives and much needed equipment including outdoor and environmental education, adapted recreation and inclusion services, Latino community outreach, afterschool clubs and neighborhood center programming, to better serve the Madison community. 

The 2020 Online Auction includes a variety of items such as pet care, gift baskets, entertainment, spa services, sports memorabilia and much more. Browse and bid online now at 32auctions.com/mscr2020, through November 19.

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

Special Education updates and resources for families during virtual learning

Free drive-through flu shots are available for anyone 6 months and older at the Alliant Energy Center, while supplies last. Learn more

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 English, Hmong, Khmer 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.