Celebrating Real Success at the REAL Academy

I had the pleasure of meeting many of the students of South Milwaukee’s REAL Academy recently during their open house and graduation ceremony. What an impressive group of young adults — and what an impressive example of innovating to improve the lives of all students.

Indeed, this is a South Milwaukee success story. And these kids are too.

The REAL (Rocket Education for Alternative Learning) Academy offers an option for kids who may have been left behind in many districts.

Kids — those who need an alternative learning environment outside of the traditional high school — meet for three hours a day and get a lot out of that time. As instructor Joanna Rizzotto told me when I first learned about this effort several years ago …

The REAL Academy is an alternative learning environment that provides high need, at-risk and special education students equal access to education by addressing their barriers to success through a personalized educational program. The REAL Academy is a separate school within SMHS, resulting in a small classroom setting which allows for individual student attention and a strong community atmosphere. Everything we do is created around being a Productive Worker: Attendance & Punctuality, Organization, Task Completion, Taking Initiative, Enthusiasm, Self Esteem, and Self Management.

She added recently …

Most of our guests comment about how they can just “feel” what is different from our students. Our students understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it can be applied in their lives outside of school. The majority of alternative programs utilize online learning and have a focus on obtaining credits. Our focus is on the overall well-being (regulation) of the child and addressing root causes (of disregulation) first. We are so grateful to be supported by our community.

Supported, and recognized for their good work.

Joanna and fellow REAL instructor Hallie Schmeling were recognized with a WISN Top Teacher Award last fall. More details here. From that story …

At the REAL Academy, Joanna says, “the focus is on the whole child and relationships.” She says her approach to teaching is “to be open, to respond and not react, to guide.”

“The unique thing,” Hallie says, “is that we really come from the space that instead of me being the teacher that is putting information into kids, we’re more about they have it in them, they have their passions, they have strengths, they have things that just need to be drawn out of them.”

Our community is better for it.

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Supporting the Community: Bucyrus Foundation Offering $25,000 in Grants to South Milwaukee Organizations

Bucyrus continues to leave a legacy in South Milwaukee, supporting the organizations that make our city so special and help so many people.

The Bucyrus Foundation has announced a new $25,000 grant program aimed at supporting South Milwaukee-based nonprofit organizations and institutions.

The city will administer the grants, partnering with the foundation and its board (including former CEO Tim Sullivan), as well as the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, to choose recipients. Grants will be for up to $5,000 each.

While funds can be used for general operations, applicants are encouraged to use the grant money to drive new or early-stage projects or programs. Funding can also be used toward capital projects. Recipients should improve the quality of life of residents in the city, or help attract new visitors, residents or businesses to South Milwaukee.

Applicants can apply here.

“The Bucyrus Foundation is thrilled to bring this funding to deserving South Milwaukee organizations,” said Tim Sullivan, a foundation board member and former CEO of Bucyrus. “I’m proud of the work Bucyrus and our employees did in passionately supporting community organizations. This effort reflects that commitment, and I’m personally excited to get behind it.”

Applications must be received by July 19, 2019. Funds will be disbursed in September.

The grants are a continuation of a program that Bucyrus pledged as part of its 2001 tax incremental financing agreement to remodel its downtown South Milwaukee campus. Caterpillar, which acquired Bucyrus in 2011, continued with the grants until the obligation expired in 2018, under terms of the TIF contract.

“I’m really happy Tim and the Bucyrus Foundation stepped up to continue to offer these funds,” South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks said. “These will make a real difference for some deserving organizations and the people they serve. Our community will be stronger for it.”

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Feeding the Community: Free Summer Lunches for Kids and Teens Start Monday

So glad to see this return this summer!

From the South Milwaukee School District …

The School District of South Milwaukee will provide a free lunch program again this year to all children 18 years and under. Persons over 18 years of age who are determined by a state or local public educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who also participate in a public or private non-profit school program during the regular school year may receive free meals as well.

The program will operate from one location this year: South Milwaukee High School, 801 15th Avenue. The program will operate Monday-Friday beginning Monday June 24, through Friday August 9, 2019. Lunch will be served from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm every Monday-Friday during this time. We will be closed on Thursday, July 4th for the holiday.

Meals are provided to eligible children regardless of race, color, national origin, age, gender or disability and there will be no discrimination in the course of meal service.

The Summer Food Service Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. If you have any questions, please feel free to call.

Check out the menu here.

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Reminder: Community Dinner Coming up This (and Every Third) Thursday

Thanks to First Congregational United Church of Christ and all of the community organizations who continue to make this happen each month. Please check it out — and bring a friend or three!

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Prost! Grant Park Beer Garden Opens Wednesday … With Free Beer, of Course

From Milwaukee County Parks …

Mark your calendars: Our next Traveling Beer Garden stop will be at Grant Park on June 19th from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.!

Our Hours: Weekdays 5:00 – 10:00 p.m and weekends/holidays 11:00 am – 10:00 pm. ***Last call will be 9 pm daily. 

Beer list: Acapulco Gold, Hefe Weiss, Abbey Triple, IPA2, Fire Light, Cidre De Pome, Black Bavarian, Pineapple Express, Mango Radler, Mai Bock, PilsnerSpecial Amber, non-alcoholic Sprecher Root Beer.

The ceremonial keg tapping is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with free beer, as supplies last. Check out the full beer garden schedule here.

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This Weekend: Advanced Theatre Production of “Rabbit Hole”

I continue to be impressed with the work of the South Milwaukee Theatre Co. under Executive Director Tim Backes, his team and students.

The latest effort: an Advanced Theatre Series “intended to give students the opportunity to take on more mature, complex literature, as well as the opportunity to take a larger role in production.”

Their first show is this weekend: “Rabbit Hole.” Details here.

From the Facebook event …

We are thrilled to present the first ever production of the new SMHS Advanced Theatre Series. This series is intended to give students the opportunity to take on more mature, complex literature, as well as the opportunity to take a larger role in production. Advanced Theatre Series shows will be fully designed (costumes, hair, makeup, lighting, sound, set) by SMHS theatre students.

This year’s production, running June 21-22 at 7:30 PM in the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, is RABBIT HOLE by David Lindsay-Abaire.

“Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RABBIT HOLE charts their bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day.”

*NOTE: This production features some strong language and mature themes. Recommended audience is high school and older.

This production will feature audience seating on stage in a black box style format. There will only be 100 tickets available per night and only two productions, so it is HIGHLY recommended you purchase tickets in advance.

Cast …

  • BECCA: Angelita Colin
  • HOWIE: J.P. McCown
  • IZZY: Lia Krystowiak
  • NAT: Isabella Bravo
  • JASON: Eli Lindner

For tickets and more information, visit www.smhstheatre.org or www.southmilwaukeepac.org.

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Me with Chris Talaska, owner of our newest local business, CM Salons, at their opening event on Saturday, June 15. Check out the great writeup they got in NOW here.

Check out these South Shore and South Milwaukee headlines …

Also, Chris Smith appeared on Steve Scaffidi’s show on AM 620 on Monday, to talk about Crusherfest. Check out the interview here. Find the June 10 rebroadcast; the interview starts about 1:45 into the show.

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