By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 13, 2021 at 10:29 AM

Thanks to ongoing partnerships between Milwaukee Public Schools and the MPS Foundation and a variety of entities five more MPS playgrounds have been greened, providing not only outdoor learning opportunities for schoolchildren, but also creating greener play spaces, and gardens, improved stormwater management and more attractive spaces within neighborhoods.

The benefits of this sort of work has been known for decades and the research continues to grow.

For years, MPS has been partnering with entities like the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the City of Milwaukee, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Sustain Our Great Lakes Program, Fund for Lake Michigan, Reflo, Funders’ Network – Partners for Places Grant, the Burke Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Private donations have also helped make some of these projects come alive.

The five schools to get new green space are Academy of Accelerated Learning, 3727 S. 78th St.; Allen-Field Elementary, 730 W. Lapham Blvd.; Bay View Montessori Upper Campus. 619 E. Dover St.; La Escuela Fratney, 3255 N. Fratney St.; and North Divison High School, 1011 W. Center St.

According to the MPS Foundation, “the new spaces promote outdoor learning, healthy food access, social-emotional well-being, recreational opportunities, arts and environmental sustainability through stormwater management and increased urban biodiversity.

“Improvements include the installation of bioswales to manage stormwater, the addition of outdoor classrooms, tree plantings, areas to serve as school gardens, and plans for curriculum that will incorporate ecology, sustainability, and freshwater sciences.”

Some students have also been deeply involved in the work, taking part in construction meetings and outreach programs.

More than a dozen schools have already gotten green spaces in recent years, including Parkside in Bay View, Longfellow and Burdick on the South Side, Maryland Avenue Montessori on the East Side, 81st Street School and Hawley Environmental on the West Side, and Brown Street Academy, Starms Early Learning Center and Lloyd Barbee Montessori on the North Side, to name but a few.

You can read about some of them here and here and here.

Check out these amazing before and after transformations:

Academy of Accelerated Learning

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Allen-Field Elementary

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Bay View Montessori Upper Campus

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La Escuela Fratney

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North Division

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Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.