"Sense of togetherness:" Thousands of MPS teachers, staff usher in new school year

MILWAUKEE -- Thousands of Milwaukee Public School teachers and staff came together in downtown Milwaukee on Thursday, August 27th to kick off the new school year -- and prepare for the challenges ahead. They did so -- in a rather unique way.

There were drum lines and cheerleaders at the UWM Panther Arena on Thursday morning -- not to greet high-profile athletes, but MPS teachers and staff.

"Most school years start out with a meeting with just the people in my building -- and we feel a sense of togetherness. This gives me a sense of unity with the entire district," said Jeff Farren, Lloyd Barbee Montessori School.

Teachers and staff from almost all of the district's 156 schools merged as they entered the arena.

"I had this experience when I was a teacher in Detroit about 15 years ago," said MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver. "It's something I will never forget and I wanted our teachers to feel that same sense of pride, that same sense of purpose, that same sense of deliberate action."

Driver feels with that, will come the ability to conquer the challenges teachers face in the year ahead.

"We're not where we want to be in terms of student achievement. So we want to make sure our students are still getting those foundational skills in reading and writing," said Driver.

Driver says another focus this year will be student attendance. The first day of classes for most in the district is Tuesday, September 1st.

MPS teachers rally