Dear MMSD Families,

Thank you for your continued partnership with our district throughout the past year. Since this is the final Family Newsletter of 2020, I would be remiss to not touch on how much our world has changed since this time last year.  For many of us, 2020 has been among the most memorable and challenging years of our lives as last March, a global health crisis forced us to move school online, while we were learning and working virtually from home. Therefore, all of us continue to miss our friends, teachers and school communities.    

This past year has required us as a  school community to be creative and innovative, while remaining supportive of one another.  Our community has been through a lot, but together we’ve stood strong and “Madison proud”.  As we put this year behind us, we are ready for a new year, prepared for the challenges which lay ahead, and united in our resiliency.
While we know it is still a time of uncertainty, I want all of our MMSD families to know this - we appreciate you. We are thankful for your support and grace, and are all truly motivated by the strength of our students, and the determination of our families to navigate these challenges with resolve. 
This holiday season, we hope you enjoy every moment with your families and take time to reflect on the past year while preparing for the future. Remember all the positive things which happened in 2020 - like a year filled with new virtual learning experiences, where we discovered fun ways to connect with our friends and loved ones over Zoom. Throughout this year, we have truly learned to be safer, healthier and empathetic to our fellow neighbors. 
On behalf of all of us at MMSD, we want you to know we are all so very proud of our students, and have tremendous gratitude for our families. Thank you for everything you have done in your homes during virtual learning to support our students while taking care of yourself and your families.  
In the spirit of reflecting on all the good things our school community has experienced over the course of the last year, I encourage all of you to watch this video in solidarity and appreciation of our #MMSDFamily. 
Have a safe and happy winter break.   


Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D

Reminder: Winter Break is December 21 - Jan 1

There is no school December 21 through January 1 for winter break. We will, however, distribute meals two days during break: Tuesday, December 22, and Tuesday, December 29. See our adjusted meal distribution schedule for details about pickup over break, and visit this page for more information

Wright Middle School student delivers speech at National AVID Virtual Conference in December  

13-year-old Johanna Gonzalez was reluctant to enter the AVID Student Speaker Contest earlier this year in May. She knew she would be competing against her peers locally and nationally for the opportunity to deliver her speech at AVID's annual conference. "I didn't think I had the confidence to deliver a passionate speech in front of my peers and judges, but my AVID teacher, Linda Bernhardt, believed in me. She loved my speech and urged me to use my voice," Johanna said. AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination is a college-readiness program offered in the district, designed to help young students develop the skills needed to be successful in college. Johanna's speech, "Here I Am" describes how being an AVID scholar has impacted her life, inspiring her to use her voice for social change. "Being selected to recite my speech at the AVID conference will lead to so many opportunities for me", said Johanna. "AVID lights a spark in me that makes me want to go to college, follow my dreams and reach back to uplift my community." 

Check out the video below for a preview of what Johanna talks about in her speech and to learn more about AVID's impact on this young scholar. Way to go, Johanna! View the video.

MMSD staff, student among 2020 North Star Award Winners

Every year, the Northside News North Star Awards recognize those working diligently, often behind-the-scenes, to make the Northside a better place to live, work and play. This year that work has been critical. As our country and our community grapple with two pandemics - one, COVID-19, sudden and recent, and the other, racism, deeply entrenched - individuals have stepped up to fill gaps in support and resources, to address inequities and to imagine new ways of being. Some of this work has been taking place for years and some of it has just begun. All of it is essential.
Congratulations to all of this year's award recipients, with a special shout out to:

  • Lailani Rivera, Senior, East High School (Youth Award)
  • DeShala Walker, Social Worker, Lake View Community School
  • Sonia Spencer, Community Schools Resource Coordinator, Mendota Community School
  • Chase West,MSCR CARES Director, Lake View Community School
  • Jocelyn Quintal-Lepinski, Universal Systems Coach, MMSD

Get to know all of the winners here, and check out the Northside Planning Council Facebook page to view the virtual awards ceremony that was held on December 6th.

Two MMSD students matched through QuestBridge National College Match Program

MMSD is honored to have two students matched through the QuestBridge National College Match Program this year: Daniel Amelinez-Robles from Memorial High was matched to California Institute of Technology, and Jessica Liu from West has been matched to Yale University! 

This national program connects high-achieving high school seniors from low-income backgrounds with full four-year scholarships to the nation's top colleges. There were over 18,500 applicants, 6,885 finalists and 42 college partners matched with a record number of finalists who are recognized as Match Scholarship Recipients. 

These outstanding high school seniors have an average unweighted GPA of 3.93, and 94% are in the top 10% of their graduating class. Of the students who reported standardized testing, 82% scored above 1260 on the SAT and 84% scored above 27 on the ACT. Financially, 95% come from a household with an annual income under $65,000, and 87% qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. The majority of these new QuestBridge Scholars - 78% - are among the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college in the United States.

QuestBridge, a national nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California, connects the nation's most exceptional, low-income youth with leading institutions of higher education and further life opportunities. By recruiting, developing, and motivating these students - beginning in high school through college to their early career - QuestBridge aims to help talented low-income students attend the nation's best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their respective careers and communities.

These two students will be honored by the MMSD Board of Education for this achievement during the January 25 regular meeting. 

MMSD library book checkout continues through COVID

MMSD libraries have continued to provide check out opportunities to students despite the libraries in schools being closed. MMSD's team of Library Media and Technology Specialists (LMTSs) have been working hard to keep technology operational for students and staff but we miss the books! So we have also been brainstorming ways to connect students to reading even when we are not in our libraries. We decided that we could safely gather collections of library books into bags and hand them out to kids. 

This is being done by many, but not all, MMSD schools. Students who attend a school that is not able to participate can get books from another school near them. Schools that are participating have posted their hours and locations on the MMSD Library Books Website

Here's how it is working at Lowell Elementary.

Tip of the Week: Chromebook Troubleshooting Tips

As simple as it sounds, shutting off your student's Chromebook and turning it back on resolves most problems. We're here for you when you need technical support, and for your convenience we're also providing some general tips and basic troubleshooting steps to help you solve the most common tech issues. Check out this Chromebook Troubleshooting Tips page. After following these five simple steps, if you still need assistance, please reach out to your school's Library Media Technology Specialist, or LMTS, or call the Family Helpline at (608) 204-5678. 

Returning unused hotspots

In April this year, in response to COVID, MMSD moved instruction entirely online. To ensure students had access to their instruction, MMSD purchased Kajeet mobile cellular hotspots for families that did not have access to WiFi in their residence.

Over 1500 hotspots were provided to families. Our recent review of data usage observed that many of these units are no longer being used.  We ask families to please return any hotspots not in use to one of the two locations: Memorial or La Follette. Please note that both sites' hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am-3 pm during the school year. During the winter break, the locations will be open on Monday, December 21, and Monday, December 28, 8 am-3 pm. For additional information on sites, please visit this website.  If you cannot return the device, please reach out to your school librarian/LMTS, who can arrange for someone to pick up the device.

Returning your inactive units will allow other families who need internet access to connect to instruction during this time of online learning. We appreciate your willingness to return these devices to support our families
still in need of internet access.

10th grade students and families: Apply for Early College STEM Academy

Interested in STEM? Do you want to earn college credit in high school for free? The Early College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy may be right for you! 

MMSD and Madison College are partners in presenting this dual enrollment program for students to take college courses in STEM fields with coursework that includes options for transfer to a four-year college or university at no cost to you or your family. Current 10th graders are encouraged to apply, with an emphasis on those who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM-related fields including students of color and females. Students have until January 29, 2021 to apply online. If you or your student want to learn more about this opportunity, please register online here for our final information session taking place on Thursday, December 17 at 6:00 p.m. Registering will give you access to a login for the event. For all other questions, please connect with your student's school counselor. 

Here's what your peers are saying about this opportunity:     

  • "STEM Academy got rid of the fear of going to college, and let me know what to expect in the classroom".      
  • "Academically, I discovered I was more capable in some ways and humbled in others".    
  • "Interesting classes in the program made it more comfortable for me".

Interview with an ITC Pathway Scholar: Genisis A. Lee  

La Follette sophomore, Genisis A. Lee is incredibly easy-going, friendly and passionate about media arts. She eagerly joined La Follette's Information Technology and Communication (ITC) Pathway last school year after making a decision to pursue the Personalized Pathways opportunity as an eighth grade student at Sennett Middle School. 

"I am really confident and knowledgeable about anything that has to do with digital technology," said Genisis. "So when I heard about the ITC Pathway, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. My mother encouraged me to look into it, and I'm glad I did". 

Genisis enjoys her ITC coding and technology courses the most, and loves that she's made new friends that are also Pathways scholars that share the same digital media interests as her. 

Read the full story.

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

This week's Facebook Live session about reopening schools is available on our Facebook page here or on YouTube here.

Final Exam Week Update

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

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 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.