Tag Archives: Rawson Elementary

Taking a Virtual Tour of the World, and Beyond


Our students got to visit the moon, the jungle, and the Mayan ruins all in one class period.  It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

That’s the report from Brian Gannon, student learning and technology coordinator for the South Milwaukee School District.

He was speaking of the Google Expeditions Pioneer program, in which select schools across the country are getting the chance to use virtual reality headsets to explore sites from around the world — universe, even.

Last week, kids at Lakeview Elementary School took part in the pilot, and TMJ4 was there to do a story. Check it out here. Rawson students are also getting an opportunity. Mr. Gannon called it an “awesome experience” and thanked technology integration coach Tammy Lind for helping bring it to South Milwaukee …

The Google Expeditions program is an expansion of the Google Cardboard apps that have become more and more popular. Google envisioned ways to use this technology in schools by allowing teachers to choose a destination and bring all the students there with the press of a button. Google began touring around the country with these last year and has visited about 20 major cities in the U.S. On April 4, Google began its first stop in Wisconsin by choosing a small number of schools, based on people who signed up for the Expeditions explorer program. Tammy Lind was one of those people. Google contacted Tammy about visiting two schools in South Milwaukee – Lakeview, and Rawson. As of now, Expeditions is just in pilot mode.  In order to make it a reality for our schools in the near future, we would need to find/purchase a classroom set of old smartphones.  We could then purchase the viewers (Google Cardboard) and install the expeditions app for teacher use. 

Learn more about the Google Expeditions Pioneer program here.

Cool stuff.

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Helping The Families Displaced By Wednesday’s Fire

Wednesday’s house fire on Rawson Avenue has greatly impacted two families, with six children attending South Milwaukee schools. Two community institutions are stepping up to help.

Guardian Credit Union has announced they have created a fund to assist the families and will be accepting donations of money, clothing and household goods at their South Milwaukee location, 1025 Milwaukee Ave. Reference the “South Milwaukee Rawson House Fire” fund.

In addition, Guardian accepted nearly $140 in donations from attendees of Thursday’s showing of “Frozen” at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market — donations that the market and Guardian then matched for a total donation of more than $400. Thanks to everyone who pitched in!

Also, Rawson Elementary is collecting clothing for boys size 5 and girls size 7/8.


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Farewell, Mr. Nowak

Former South Milwaukee teacher and Rawson and Blakewood principal Erv “Mick” Nowak passed away this week.

Here is his obituary, and the online tributes show the impact this man had.

From the obituary:

His career in education spanned 34 years in South Milwaukee – as both a 6th grade teacher and math teacher at Parkway for seven years and then as principal of Rawson and Blakewood elementary schools. His philosophy was “do what’s best for the children.” Known to his students as “Mr. Kickball,” Erv was full-time pitcher and refereed the popular lunchtime recess games.

Erv was known for his flawless penmanship, likely the result of all the practice he received penning the thousands of hand-written notes he mailed to each and every student on their birthdays. He spent countless hours writing these notes on index cards, always with a reference to what made that child special and unique. He remembered former students and their families by name, even decades after they had been at one of his schools.

Please keep the Nowak family — and all who knew him — in your prayers. The visitation and funeral are Friday at St. Matthew’s in Oak Creek.

Did you know Mr. Nowak? Post your comments below.

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Focused On Character: Another Reason To Be Impressed With South Milwaukee Schools

As my now first-grade son makes his way through Rawson Elementary, I’ve been nothing but impressed with the South Milwaukee School District.

Administrators, teachers and staff — I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to all levels of leadership in the district and am always happy with what I see.

From the commitment to long-range planning (and acting on those plans) to the classroom learning I see my 6-year-old receiving, I feel blessed to live in this city and public school district.

The district’s latest effort around character education is the latest reason to believe.

Simply, the district is now turning its focus to improving the character traits of its students.

Learn more in this Journal Sentinel story. From it:

One of the current participants is the School District of South Milwaukee. Leaders of the district and each of its six schools have been going to the sessions. What is emerging is a districtwide focus on improving relationships within schools.

South Milwaukee had an all-staff professional development session around character education recently. (Disclosure: I spoke briefly as part of the program.) The featured speaker was Adolph Brown, a Virginia-based psychologist who does presentations all over the country.

One of Brown’s themes: “More is caught than is taught.” Students pay attention to and learn a lot from what goes on around them. Not only the way they are treated but the way they see others (including the adults in a school) treat each other shapes their education.

Colin Jacobs, principal of Rawson Elementary School and one of the leaders of the South Milwaukee effort, said the message resonated with staff members. As he put it, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.”

He said a focus in coming months will be on practices that say to everyone in a school, “This is what we can expect from each other.” One goal is to see if more cases involving problems with specific students can be solved by building relationships rather than by, say, referring the student for a special education evaluation.

After Brown’s presentation, staff members from each of the South Milwaukee schools met to discuss how they might launch into this. One thing they did was vote, from a list of 51 attributes, for what traits they thought should be emphasized. Input from parents and others is also being sought, Jacobs said, with the goal of focusing on nine.

In the overall staff voting, the most votes went to three traits that you would expect to be at the top of the list: Honesty, respect and responsibility. But coming in a close fourth was perseverance.

I’ll keep you posted as this initiative takes flight.

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Willow Lane Fire Update: How to Help the Family

Updated: Reports in South Milwaukee NOW that arson was the suspected cause of this fire were incorrect. I apologize for repeating the error on this blog. I’ll keep you posted on more information when I get it.

Here is how you can help the family displaced by the recent fire at 500 Willow Lane.

Rawson Elementary is collecting clothes for the two children (girls sizes 6-8 and boys 10-12) until Wednesday, Sept. 22. Donations can be brought to the school office, with the family picking up donations from there.

See my previous post about the fire here.

I’ll keep  you posted as I learn more about this.

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Election Information: Where and How to Vote on Tuesday

Tuesday is primary election day, and the city website has a page with more information for would-be voters.

Click here to learn more about polling places, registration information and instructions on how to fill out the ballot.

Keep in mind that all 4th District residents now vote at Rawson Elementary, 1401 Rawson Ave. Voting is no longer held at South Milwaukee Middle School, as part of an effort to condense city polling places from eight to four.

No matter who you vote for, I hope you cast a ballot on Tuesday. It’s your chance to have your voice heard in our democracy … a chance to shape the future of your county, state and nation.  Make your voice heard.

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Summer is Over … Sigh … and School Starts on Wednesday

As the proud parent of a 5-year-old entering full-day kindergarten at Rawson Elementary, here is a fact that I know all too well: School starts on Wednesday.

I say this with a tinge of sadness — he is growing up so quickly — but with an even bigger amount of excitement, for I know how much Christian will learn this year. I say often that one of the biggest reasons we moved to South Milwaukee in 2002 was its first-class school system. And my experience with Rawson and the district so far has borne this out.

Christian, I know, is in good hands … and it will be a great year.

You can see the hours of each school at the South Milwaukee School District website here, and here is a list of other important dates.

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Weekend Events to Keep in Mind … Including the 4th District Town Hall Meeting

There’s plenty going on in South Milwaukee and the 4th District this weekend.

  • For starters, I hope you can attend the 4th District town hall meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday at City Hall. Learn more here.
  • Before or after the meeting, why not stop by the Holiday Bazaar? It’s scheduled for  9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Grobschmidt Senior Center. Learn more about the event in the center’s monthly newsletter here.
  • And don’t forget about the H1N1 clinic at the Oak Creek Community Center, also on Saturday. It’s co-sponsored by the South Milwaukee Health Department.

Also, don’t forget about the Rawson Elementary playground dedication at 2 p.m. on Friday. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this one due to a work function, but I hope you can show up to thank the Rawson PTO and others for making this new playground happen.

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New Rawson Playground Opens Next Week

Anxious kids, and parents of anxious kids, your waiting is almost over.

The dedication of the new and much improved Rawson Elementary playground is set for 2 p.m. on Friday, November 13.

The Rawson Parent Teacher Organization is holding the event, in which the playground will be dedicated to former Rawson Principal Jim Frazee.

Learn more in this South Milwaukee NOW story. And click here to see my earlier post on this subject.

A big thanks to school officials and the PTO for leading the charge on this wonderful project.

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New Look for Rawson Elementary Playground

UPDATE: I heard from Rawson Principal Colin Jacobs today, and he said the playground is expected to be completed in mid- to late November. It will take approximately two weeks for the equipment to be installed and another week for the rubber matting to be put down. “Pray for good weather,” he told me in an email. Consider it done. Thanks for the update, Mr. Jacobs.

There’s some good news for 4th District kids.

Work is underway on replacing the outdoor playground at Rawson Elementary, and the new equipment will be first-class. The old equipment has already been removed from the site.  

The project got a boost this summer when the City Council allocated Community Development Block Grant money for the effort. Some “leftover” CDBG funds from Oak Creek also helped with the project.

It’s a worthy project, one that will benefit the entire community. And I know my son, a Rawson 4K student, is even more excited than I am about it.

Thanks to everyone, including school leaders and the dedicated volunteers who have raised funds for the playground, for making this happen.

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