By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM

In the seven months since word arrived that the GE Foundation was giving MPS $20.4 million, the district and its benefactor have been working together on a number of initiatives.

At the start of the year, GE Healthcare helped make over the computer lab at Morse/Marshall with the help of CompuCom, which donated 45 computers.

Next week, more than 2,500 GE Healthcare employees join about 600 MPS staffers and parents to make upgrades at 15 MPS schools during the 17th annual Community Service Day.

Among the schools getting some new paint, organization, cleaning and landscaping are Allen-Field, Burbank, Burroughs, Franklin, Hartford, High School of the Arts, Milwaukee Sign Language, Pierce, Riverside, Roosevelt, Rufus King, Story, Trowbridge and 95th Street.

Last month, Kagel principal Nancy Martinez told us about the work the volunteers would be undertaking in her Walker's Point school.

This week, all the MPS principals, including more than 50 new school leaders, have been at a Leadership Institute at South Division High for seminars, meetings and trainings that this morning included a spirited, entertaining but engaging talk by Dr. Stephen Peters, CEO and president of The Peters Group, which awards scholarships to at-risk students who maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.

GE Foundation sponsored Peters' keynote address to the institute.

A former principal himself, Peters – an author, speaker and education advocate – has years of personal and school-related success stories that fuel his humor-filled talks.

For about an hour, he engaged an auditorium full of principals, eliciting laughter, applause and more than a few nods of recognition and agreement as he exhorted the principals to be be leaders, not just managers, and to treat all kids the same.

Peters is the author of the book, "Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me?" in which he argues that teaching is not a skill, but about building relationships with all students.

He reminded the principals that being a leader isn't being in charge of people but, in his words, "putting a charge into people.

"Nobody rises up to low expectations," he said before detailing the successes he's had around the country with his Gentleman's Club and Ladies' Club programs.

"This is not a time for complaints; this is not a time to be wimpy," he told the crowd. "This is the year we have to get it right. This is the year you will get it right."

He had positive words for MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton, saying the district, "has the right driver on the bus in Dr. Thornton."

Peters serves as a consultant for GE and partners with the GE Foundation in its work in improving access to quality education across the country.

The GE Foundation has also been working closely with MPS to help launch MPS' new district-wide comprehensive math and science curriculum.

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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.