MPS partners with Zoological Society for scholarship program

MILWAUKEE -- Some of Milwaukee Public Schools’ youngest students got a free lesson on reptiles at the Milwaukee County Zoo Tuesday.

Kindergarten-age students and their parents from 81st Street School took a class on snakes and chameleons as part of a new scholarship program with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.

“They have different stations around the room where the children can choose which ones appealed to them.  So there's some activities where you might be catching bugs, like a chameleon, or some activities where they're making snakes to slither along the floor,” Marylynn Conterstrack, the enrichment program coordinator for the Zoological Society said.

Students and their parents are able to attend the classes for free, which focus on early childhood development and kids with special needs. The classes were made possible by a new scholarship program through the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and MPS.

“It's fun, it's fun.  We're enjoying it and they seem to be enjoying themselves,” parent Michael Terry, who brought his twins Mason and Shia to the classes, said.  “They've had no interaction with any reptiles at this age, so they're getting to expand their horizons.”

The program allows for interactive, hands-on learning in a not-so-typical school environment. “As opposed to just sitting and being lectured or being told what an animal is like, instead to act like that animal or make a project.  To be able to have that animal slither on the ground and make the movements of that animal, it really helps foster that learning,” Conterstrack said.

Under the scholarship program, parents can also take their kids to special classes at the zoo during their own time.

Right now it's a pilot program, but school leaders hope to extend it through the summer.