Milwaukee Public Schools 'rings in' new school year at Thurston Woods Campus

MILWAUKEE (WITI) --  Milwaukee Public Schools "rang in" the traditional school year Tuesday, September 2nd. To kick off the new year, the annual bell ringing ceremony was held at Thurston Woods Campus.

Governor Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and MPS Acting Superintendent Darienne Driver all took part in the bell ringing procession around the neighborhood, and then each addressed students, parents and teachers before school began.

“I look at your faces and I see the hope of tomorrow, and I know this is going to be fantastic year. You are the leaders that are going to carry this city forward,” said Driver.

“It’s really about you today. If you are committed to making sure you come to school every day, and you learn and you practice reading every day there's no doubt that not only through your time at this school, but all the way through whatever school you go to in the Milwaukee area, if you're at school every day, of your reading every day, we can guarantee you will have a great time in school and then a great time in whatever career you chose going forward,” Governor Scott Walker said when he addressed students, teachers and parents Tuesday morning.

MPS identified the 14 Commitment Schools through a selection process that included members of the community, MTEA and administration. The schools were selected from among the 48 MPS schools that received the lowest grade on the most recent state report card. All 48 schools will receive additional instructional support, professional development and operational assistance in the upcoming school year.

Other key efforts aimed at accelerating student achievement for 2014-15 include:

- School support teachers in every school to help improve instruction by working directly with educators in their classrooms

- 50 new art, music and physical education specialist teaching positions in MPS schools, part of a total of 142 new such positions added over three years

- Continued implementation of the district's Comprehensive Literacy Plan and Comprehensive Math and Science Plan, which are tied to the Common Core State Standards to set a clear, high bar for what students must master in each grade to stay on track for college and career success

MPS is also committed to building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. Those efforts for 2014-15 include:

- Parent coordinators in every school to build stronger relationships between families and schools

- Committing to continue to improve outcomes for men of color through participation in President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative

- A focus on growing mentoring opportunities

- Continued development of a Customer Service Bureau to better serve families

- Growing new schools in response to growing demand, including the new high school at MPS' high-performing Golda Meir School for the Gifted and Talented, located in a once-closed middle school building; a new charter high school with limited seats still available, NOVA Tech; and additional grades at schools including Howard Avenue Montessori School, Carmen Middle/High School of Science and Technology-Northwest Campus, Hamlin Garland School, Hayes Bilingual School, Milwaukee College Prep - 38th Street Campus, Milwaukee Environmental Sciences, Universal Academy for the College Board and Walt Whitman School.

- Development of a leadership pipeline

- Continued implementation of a strong educator evaluation system designed to identify and grow excellent teaching practices