Yesterday, I stopped at Allen-Field Elementary on Lapham Boulevard to drop off some school supplies that our friend Steve Palec, OnMilwaukee.com programmer Nick Barth and I had collected for kids at the K3-5 school with more than 700 pupils.
It was a hot day and the school was abuzz with activity as teachers and staff – who officially had to report the day before, but had in most cases already been in the building for weeks or days ahead of that – working to get their classrooms ready, hallways decorated, the library in order, etc.
And, yes, they all looked very professionally dressed, per the new district dress code. In describing it to me earlier this week, a teacher told me the rule of thumb for footwear is, "If you can wear it in the shower, you can't wear it to school."
Traditional-calendar Milwaukee Public Schools open on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
As soon as I walked into the office and asked for Rene Blazel, the first grade teacher I met via social media, Principal Marybell Nieves Harris came over to say an enthusiastic thank you for the modest collection of notebook paper, notebooks, colored pencils, crayons and a coveted box of 500 shiny new yellow pencils given to me by Palec.
Blazel gave me a tour and I met a dozen or more teachers who glistened a bit with the sweat of the day's work, but who – to a person – wore equally glistening smiles and the kind of first-day-of-school fire that keeps these folks going.
There are many challenges at Allen-Field this year but this is clearly a team that will rise to meet them.
Over at Maryland Avenue Montessori on the East Side, finishing touches are being put on two new temporary classrooms that have had all kinds of names over the years – portables, demountables, barracks and, egads, trailers. A century ago, barracks were erected at many schools – including Maryland Avenue (though on the opposite side of the building) – as the district attempted to keep up with growing enrollments. Some high schools, like Bay View and Pulaski existed in on-site barracks while their buildings were being planned and built (obligatory plug: you can read about that in my book, "Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses").
While enrollment overall isn't growing, some schools, like Maryland, have popular programs that are housed in buildings with limited space. But, often, the school's location is a key part of its brand, so while moving to a larger, empty school sounds like an easy solution, it isn't always that simple.
These two new classrooms, which are heated and are the only classrooms in the building (an amalgam of three structures built in 1887, 1893 and 1951) with air conditioning, do look a bit trailer-ish from the playground side, but they're still nicer looking than some may have expected.
From the street view heading north on Prospect Avenue, the new corridor that connects the rooms to the building is much nicer, with a stucco-like exterior accented with wood finishings.
The work was done by MPS' own facilities team with the assistance of Bay View's Foundation Architects. Together they crafted an attractive short-term solution (there are no foundations, the corridor and classrooms sit on footings). The classrooms are expected to be up for two or three years as the school works with the district to address long-term space issues.
Speaking of Maryland Avenue Montessori, the school is one of three that will be offer tours during Doors Open MKE on Sept. 21-22. The others are Golda Meir (Fourth Street School) and Eighth Street School (home to Project STAY and the New School for Community Service).
All three are the work of celebrated Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch. While Golda and Eighth Street are open to all from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, the tour of Maryland (which I'm leading) is an in-depth tour open to Historic Milwaukee Inc. members only. None of the three schools is open on Sunday, Sept. 22.
Finally, Principal Andrea Corona tells us that a mere 10 K4 seats remain at her MacDowell Montessori program at the Juneau Campus on 64th and Mount Vernon. It's a chance to join a great community.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Dec. 7, 2013
The world's most famous ice skating rink shimmers beneath what must be the most impressive urban tree, perhaps in the world, and the shop windows in the Center and along Fifth Avenue must be seen to be believed. Crowds queue to see the holiday spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and Times Square is decked out in green and red. And all America comes to check it out.
Published Dec. 6, 2013
It's not every day a business pulls up stakes in Chicago and replants them in Milwaukee, but that's just what's happening this week as Distinctive Guitar Boutique Guitar Gallery opens in Bay View this weekend at 2505 S. Howell Ave.
Published Dec. 6, 2013
Last month, 88Nine announced the finalists of its annual Radio Milwaukee Music Awards and last night the winners were named at an awards event held at the station's new Walker's Point digs.
Published Dec. 4, 2013
A new Colectivo cafe and a new grand cafe concept from the owners of Cafe Benelux restaurant - the first by each of the locally owned dining groups in Waukesha County - will open in The Marcus Corporation's open-air mall called The Corners of Brookfield, located east of Barker Road near the intersection of I-94 and Bluemound Road.
Published Dec. 2, 2013
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 3, Milwaukee's Stone Creek Coffee celebrates its 20th birthday. And to honor the occasion, the local roaster will serve up its new Anniversary Alchemy blend all day. And if you get to one of the cafes before noon, you can join the celebration by getting a 12-ounce cup of it free!
Published Dec. 2, 2013
Don't feel bad if you've never seen the plaque affixed to 100 East Wisconsin, explaining the historical relevance of the northwest corner of Water and Wisconsin. It's on the lower level of the building, facing the RiverWalk. I've passed it countless times and never noticed. But one day it caught my eye. I took some photographs and spent some time digging to fill in a bit more of the story of this corner that is the birthplace of Milwaukee.
Published Nov. 29, 2013
Miles Davis once compared the jazz violin playing of Milwaukee native Sonya Robinson to the work of Stuff Smith. If you follow jazz, you know what kind of praise that is, especially for a young musician. Nearly 30 years later, after a recent return home to perform at Blu, atop The Pfister hotel, we took the opportunity to chat with Robinson about her career, about her Milwaukee ties and about her new record.
Published Nov. 27, 2013
Thanks to the early frigid temps, ice skating begins Friday, Nov. 29 at Red Arrow Park's Slice of Ice rink, 920 N. Water St. You may recall that unusually warm weather delayed the opening of the rink last year.
Published Nov. 26, 2013
Thanks to fond memories of going to gawk at holiday lights and window displays with my mom and brother as a kid, I'm still a fan of this stuff, especially now that I can bring kids of my own to see them. One of the most enduring in Milwaukee is the Holiday Busytown, which sets up each year in the lobby of the bank at 770 N. Water St. This year's display kicks off on Monday, Dec. 2 and is free and open to the public. And your visit will benefit Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.
Published Nov. 26, 2013
In the low, dimly lit space beneath St James Episcopal Church, 833 W. Wisconsin Ave., there's a hissing sound and a horizontal geyser of steam shooting out of a pipe. It immediately grabs your attention. Until you see the tall thin grave stone leaning up against a brick column. St. James is built atop the former Spring Street Burying Ground. They think all the human remains were removed when the church bought the property in 1850, but a few scattered headstones mark a lingering doubt.