As I prepare to pack up my stuff and head out to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the folks who work hard every day to educate Milwaukee’s children.
I’d say that in the current climate that is a thankless task but as I was reminded last week when I spent a little time with a quartet of smart, sharp, funny minds at Siefert Elementary during the MPS school’s amazing Comprehension and Conversations reading event (organized by energetic school support teacher Dannette Justus), the rewards come directly from the kids, even when they don't come from politicians and others far removed from the classroom.
I’d also like to give a special shout out to the folks at City Year Milwaukee, who work in MPS schools to serve as leaders, mentors and tutors. They are AmeriCorps volunteers who receive little more than a small monthly stipend to help cover their room and board.
The nonprofit does such good work that the Herzfeld Foundation recently gifted it $50,000, and just this week, City Year MKE announced that its VP and Executive Director, Jason Holton, is transitioning to the national senior leadership team, heading up talent recruitment. Fortunately for Milwaukee, Holton will remain here, where he will join in the search for a successor.
Holton will help City Year chapters across the country find talented folks like Milwaukee resident Faith Harper-King, pictured below. A student at MATC, Harper-King – who attended MPS’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts – signed on with City Year for a year to help make a positive mark on Milwaukee schools.
"I serve to help children in low performing neighborhoods so that we can change statistics and prove those statistics wrong," Faith Harper-King said. "The students I serve have taught me that it’s more than just giving to the community. It helps children to see that someone that looks like them cares."
City Year is in its seventh year in MPS. Last year, 29 percent of City Year students in grades 3-9 went from below grade level to at/or above their grade level on math assessments. That’s positive progress.
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.