We are a school district that values and celebrates diversity

Last week, Superintendent Cheatham sent a message to all families reaffirming our district's commitment to ensuring all students and families know that they are valued members of our school communities. Read the superintendent's letter below.

We are a school district that values and celebrates diversity unequivocally. We are proud to be home to a beautiful population of students, families and staff of different races, faiths, national origins, immigration status, political viewpoints, abilities, sexual orientation and gender identity. Every student and family is a valued member of our community.

We have heard in particular that many of our immigrant students and families are seeking support at this time. All students and families, regardless of immigration status, are important members of our community and we are committed to ensuring that they are always welcome and safe in our schools. Based on concerns we have heard, we've compiled resources that can help families find the information and services they need: mmsd.org/students-rights-immigrants

Again, I am proud to be part of a community that values the diversity that makes our school district strong. Thank you for your partnership in ensuring our schools are safe and welcoming environments for all.



Jennifer Cheatham, Superintendent

Join us for Family, Youth and Community Day on Jan. 28

We will host Family, Youth and Community Day on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10:30 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, 501 E. Badger Road in Madison. We will have a variety of resources and workshops for families. Here are a few of the workshops being offered:

  • Financial Literacy
  • Mindfulness for Managing Stress
  • Advocating for Students
  • Engaging with Schools

This event is free for our families. Childcare will be available. Transportation and interpretation services are available upon request. Learn more about the event and register here. We hope to see you there!


Interest in the first Personalized Pathway is high among 8th grade students

More than five hundred Madison 8th grade students applied to be in the health services pathway launching this fall at East, La Follette, Memorial and West high schools. We're excited to see our students interested in Personalized Pathways, which offers students personalized opportunities to study subjects they're passionate about and helps them make connections between what they learn in class and the real world.

Applicants (and their families) were notified on Monday whether they were accepted. Read more about the number of students who applied to be in the first pathway in this article from Doug Erickson of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Also, hear what other students had to say about their experience with pathways. https://youtu.be/-UVMap_AdWc



Results are in on the Middle School Start Time survey

Recent research indicates later school start times (8:30 a.m. or later) align better to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty. Additional research confirms later school start times result in decreased tardiness and absenteeism and improved performance on standardized tests. In response to those findings, some families and students asked us to explore the possibility of later start times for middle schools.

Earlier this fall, we asked families, students and staff to complete a survey about middle school start times in order to collect data regarding preferences for middle school start times.

Key findings

The survey found that 63% of parents, 62% of students and 45% of staff believe a later middle school start time would make morning routines easier. 15% of parents, 13% of students and 26% of staff believe it would have no impact.

Additionally, among those who indicated a later start time would be more challenging, 48% of staff cited transportation problems as the reason, while 55% of parents cited conflicts with their work schedules. Read the full Middle School Start Time Survey Report.

Next Steps

Our Middle School Cross Functional Team continues to work with the bus carrier to conduct a comprehensive review at all levels to achieve the best possible balance between school start times, bus efficiencies and minimal financial impact. We look forward to sharing more on our progress in early spring.



How are we doing? School climate survey coming on Feb. 1

We strive to provide the best service to our students and families and give students the tools they need to succeed. We want to ensure each family feels connected and engaged in their school community.

We are conducting a survey that focuses on five areas of school climate: Relationships, Teaching and Learning, Safety, Institutional Environment and Family Engagement. The survey will be sent through email or text message to all MMSD families on Feb. 1.

Support group available for families of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Crestwood/Olson Elementary School Nurse Gretchen Forbes and Crestwood parent Kyo Ladopoulos have started a support group for families of children with ADHD. The two developed the group after hearing a need for support during a district focus group about children with ADHD.

The goal of the group is to provide a supportive environment where families can ask questions, share ideas and develop strategies to help their children succeed. All MMSD families are welcome to attend the meetings, which are held the third Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Crestwood library, 5930 Old Sauk Road, Madison.

If you have questions about the support group, email Gretchen Forbes at gforbes@madison.k12.wi.us.


School Spotlight: Falk is strengthening families, school and community with its resource center

With the support of its community and multiple partners, Falk Elementary School has been hard at work to launch the Falk Family Resource Center. The center was created to serve Falk students and their families by providing access to various resources right at the school.

The resource center provides families with food, clothing, computer access, assistance with job searches and more. Falk has become the center of the community and organizations surrounding the school have played an integral role in the success of this resource center. Read more about Falk’s Family Resource Center.



School Spotlight: Whitehorse Stands Together

A Whitehorse student leads a project to bring students together. Sabeel Samrah started the “We Stand Together” project. Sabeel said it’s a way to show that the Whitehorse 8th grade community won’t allow hateful actions and/or words to express their opinions. Students participated in the project by voluntarily signing posters.



School Spotlight: Shorewood nominated for national honor, celebrates Dr. King’s birthday with “I Have a Dream” walk

Shorewood recently received a nomination for a national program from State Superintendent Tony Evers. The Blue Ribbon Schools program award is given to schools for academic excellence or for improving student achievement. Shorewood is one of eight Wisconsin schools to be nominated. The awards will be announced in the fall. Read more in this article from Bill Novak of the Wisconsin State Journal. Congratulations on your nomination, Shorewood!

On January 13, 2017, Shorewood staff and students showed their unwavering commitment to equity by celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with their "I Have a Dream" walk around the school.



School Spotlight: Kindness at Randall comes to life in playground mural

Over the last few months, Randall Elementary school students, school partners and community members have been working on a mural on the school’s playground. The mural features drawings of Randall Raccoons and all the places they can practice kindness: in the library, on the playground, in the lunchroom, in the classroom and walking to school.

The project was started by Randall’s art teacher Kati Walsh. The school partnered with artists from Dane Arts Mural Arts, students from the West High SAIL Program, the Randall school community and others to complete the project. Watch the video to see how the mural came together.



Chávez teacher featured in article discusses how she uses web-based learning program in her classroom

Web-based learning program Flocabulary recently featured Chávez teacher Pam Ferrill in an article. Flocabulary is for all grades and subjects and uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement. In the article, Pam discusses how she uses Flocabulary in her classroom.



Looking for something fun to do? Check out MSCR’s newest facility

MSCR East recently opened at 4620 Cottage Grove Road in the Rolling Meadows Shopping Center. MSCR East offers a variety of classes and programs for all ages, including:

  • Family fitness
  • Youth fitness
  • Goodman-Rotary 50 + Fitness
  • Youth Arts and Enrichment
  • Adult Arts and Enrichment