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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, April 19, 2014

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You can help kids improve reading skills at Forest Home Avenue School via a Donors Choose campaign.
You can help kids improve reading skills at Forest Home Avenue School via a Donors Choose campaign.

Help give the gift of education

Tis the season for opening your hearts and helping out around town. One way you can do that is to help a teacher in a classroom. I don’t mean in person – though you can do that at many schools, of course.

Instead, consider doing something like donating materials to a classroom at your child’s school, your neighborhood school or a school to which you feel some sort of connection (you went there, your mom went there, etc.).

At our school, for example, teachers have placed giving tree items on classroom doors. Parents can pluck a post-it and return it with the item listed on it. In many schools, budget line items for things like supplies have been swallowed up by lines that help make sure there are sufficient adults working in the building. So, classrooms can use some help with supplies.

If you’d like a suggestion for a school, I’m always happy to offer one. Email me.

Otherwise, DonorsChoose.org always has great ways to give. There are many projects that teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools are trying to fund. For example, Forest Home Avenue School (which my mom attended) second grade teacher Angela Bohr is trying to raise about $300 to support materials to help boost the reading skills of the kids that are in her Tier 2 Response to Intervention (RTI) group. These are kids who are struggling and need intensive instruction to make progress.

"We have a daily, 45-minute Tier 2 time where I work with nine students that are in my Tier 2 group," says Bohr. "My students are loving and come to school to learn. They have had traumatic events happen to them which has caused many of them to have academic delays. My school serves students Pre-K-5th grade with over 800 students. We are a neighborhood school. My students eat breakfast and lunch here at school. The teachers provide many school supplies and snacks for their students.

"Two of my students can't read at all and struggle with phonics sounds. All nine of them struggle with phonics and I need activities they can do on their level. These materials will help them gain the knowledge they need to recognize those vowel sounds so that they can read."

You can donate to Mrs. Bohr’s classroom project here.

Or you can donate to MPS's Mitten Tree Drive, by bringing new hats, scarves, gloves and mittens – store-bought or home-made – to MPS' Central Services building, 5225 W. Vliet St., during normal business hours, through Jan. 6.

The items will be distributed to students in need in MPS schools, the Head Start program, the Homeless Education Program and Community Assessment Training Program students.

In other school news today:

Milwaukee Film released today three public service announcements (PSAs) that emerged from The Milwaukee Film Education Program’s six-week-long On-Site Workshop series that worked with youth at Audubon Technology and Communication Center Middle School, NOVA High School and LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club.

"Education programs are a critical part of the Milwaukee Film mission and vision," said Executive and Artistic Director Jonathan Jackson. "To be able to partner with these local organizations through our On-Site Workshops has been a rewarding experience for our staff, instructors, and the students themselves."

The workshops teach students how music videos and PSA videos are made, empowering them to make their own videos. In the workshops, small groups of middle and high schoolers conceptualized, developed, shot, lit, acted in and helped edit their own short videos about issues that matter to them.

Youth at LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club chose to make a video about teen suicide and its effects, after losing a close friend to suicide at Nicolet High School earlier in the year. The video offered them a chance to broadcast their message and process their own grief.

With the permission of the workshop participants and the Nicolet student's family, the PSA will be shared with the entire Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee community, along with an article written by a participant in the workshop.

You can see the Audubon video here and the NOVA PSA here.

Meanwhile, Journey House announced today that 40 of its participants earned GED diplomas this fall, 10 times more than typically graduate with GEDs during the season.

Overall, 2013 adult students earned GEDs through Journey House’s program. The winter grads will be feted at a Dec. 18 dinner at the center, 2110 W. Scott St.

According to a Journey House statement, the high number is a result of the upcoming change to GED exam, which rolls out in January. That change meant students needed to successfully complete all five tests by Dec. 12 or start from scratch with the new process.

"We are very proud of our students’ effort and determination during this final push to complete the GED testing process," said Dr. Michele Bria, Journey House CEO. "Our new space, our partnership with the UMOS Testing Center, and our dedicated GED instructors have allowed us to launch 70 Milwaukeeans on their way to new career pathways."

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