By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 24, 2016 at 8:44 AM

After a kidney transplant this summer Judge Derek Mosley, who I have no hesitation describing as a beloved-by-all Milwaukeean, hopes to be back at work next week.

But when he talks about his usual first-day-of-school greeting of students at Milwaukee Public Schools' Siefert Elementary, 1547 N. 14th St., there’s no maybe.

"We've been doing this for several years now, and it's sort of taken on a life of its own," says Mosley, of the group of Milwaukee men that line up at the entrance to the school on the first day of school to welcome kids back to the classroom.

"Several years ago, myself and Dannette Justus, who now works at Siefert, were having a discussion about how we could expose the students to more positive role models. Kids tend to emulate the people they see the most, so our idea was to completely inundate them with as many positive people as possible."

That led to a career day, with lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, news anchors, police officers, firefighters, plumbers, accountants, politicians and others, Mosley recalls.

"We had every occupation you could imagine. We split everyone up and sent them from classroom to classroom, talking about their professions, education needed to get there, perks, and fielding questions from the students. The students loved it. We then built on the idea by doing read-ins with the same occupations. Each person would bring a book and read to the students and talk about their profession.

"We then decided to start doing this on every first day of school. It's now become first day of school, several career days during the year and now the last day of school to stress reading over the summer.

Mosley wrote a Facebook post this week urging area men to join him and his fellow volunteers next Thursday at Siefert: "This has become a tradition. Your high fives, handshakes, cheers, pats on the back and words of encouragement are so welcoming for students, parents and staff. It really does take a village. Now, more than ever, our young people need you. They need to see positivity, encouragement and role models!"

Mosley says that since Siefert started doing this, the word has spread and other schools have welcomed volunteers to do the same thing at their front doors on the first day. It’s becoming so popular that MPS even has a web page where you can (and should) sign up to welcome folks back to school on Thursday, Sept. 1.

On the web page, MPS also urges volunteers to sign on for the morning:

"Volunteers should bring their smiles and be ready to give dozens of high fives and warm wishes to students and families for the new school year. Service will be on playgrounds and hallways in the hour preceding the first bell and a few minutes after. This is a great opportunity to show your support for the hard work that goes on all year in Milwaukee Public Schools."

Mosley says that volunteers should arrive at Siefert by 7:20 a.m., because students begin lining up to enter the building at 7:30.

"Please wear whatever attire you wear to work," he urges, "so these young people can see the various professions represented in this city."

He says there are benefits for him and the other volunteers – and for the kids, of course.

"I've had parents come up to me and say that their son or daughter now wants to be a lawyer or a judge because they met me," he says. "That is why I do it. What do the kids get out of it? In court I ask every kid what is it they want to do for a living. Kids say doctor, lawyer, etc., but have no idea what it takes to do any of it. These events show them what it takes and shows them that there are people out there that look like them doing great things. If they can do it, I can do it."

You can join Mosley at Siefert, or you can help spread the love at other MPS schools. If you’re looking to help out at another school, visit the link above, select the school and fill out the form.

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 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.