By Dave McClurg, Partners in Education Chair
The Partners in Education Committee focuses its efforts on Oliver Wendell Holmes (“OWH”) and Brown Street Academy (“BSA”) in the hope that our concentrated attention will lead to meaningful improvements in these two severely challenged central city schools. Thanks to the work of our volunteers and the outstanding efforts of BSA liaison Barbara Velez and OWH liaison Roger Schroeder, our efforts are paying off. We recently received a letter from BSA Principal, Ava Morris, conveying her heartfelt thanks for our work and confirming that our strategy is having a far reaching and extremely positive impact.
Our greatest impact has been through the volunteers we have encouraged to assist with the Rotary Reading Program at BSA and the Homework First and tutoring programs at OWH. As a result of Barbara Velez’ efforts, over 100 UWM students and 11 Rotary members participated in the BSA Reading Program, providing volunteers in almost every classroom. The work of these dedicated volunteers helped contribute to amazing increases in the students’ MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores. Anywhere from 75% to 95% of the students in the classes that our volunteers worked with significantly improved their MAP scores during the course of the year.
We also provided six Rotary volunteers and an equal number of UWM volunteers at OWH to tutor students in reading, math and science. We expect to maintain the number of volunteers at BSA in the 2014/15 school year, and hope to increase the number of volunteers we are able to place at OWH through increased participation by UWM students and new volunteers from Cardinal Stritch University.
Although the personal interaction between the volunteers and students provided the most visible form of our support, the RCM Community Trust also provided significant funding for a variety of worthwhile programs at OWH and BSA. Our support allowed students at both schools to attend the Urban Ecology Center Science Module and participate in dance groups at the schools. We also provided funds used to purchase prize awards for the most improved readers in each class at BSA, and to support the Behavior Incentive and Attendance Programs at OWH. Total Rotary funding for the programs at these schools for the 2013-14 school year was approximately $22,000.
As we come to the end of my second term as Chairman of the PIE Committee, I am extremely pleased to announce that JoAnn Weishan and David Baum have agreed, with the blessing of incoming President John Bernaden, to lead the Committee forward as co-chairs for the upcoming year. Please give them your support.