The kick-off was an enthusiastic event where more than 9,000 Milwaukee Public school employees gathered together at the UW-Panther Arena. It was an event to bring thousands of employees together to start the beginning of the school-year off with a bang. We (City Year) were excited to join the teachers, since for most of us it was our first time. The excitement was surely made up of fire and joy where a community of teachers showed support for each other because, of course, we are all in this together.
The gathering was only the icing on the cake.
Teachers, secretaries, security guards, and even recreational staff appeared with spirit and countless amounts of pride for the schools that they represented. Everyone wore their school colors or wore a unified tee-shirt that showed their love for their school. Teachers walked triumphantly in groups. Some had banners and blow-horns. One school even showed up with the principal banging on a drum. The pride was endless and everyone loved it.
The best part about the rally was City Year showing their support for the teachers who attended. As teachers were getting off of their buses, City Year corps members created a soul train line of cheers and jeers. We were performing our power greetings illuminating the spirit of City Year and how we create a positive environment every morning at school. Honestly, some teachers had confused looks on their faces because not too many educators know or understand the culture of City Year. However, a few of our 11 partner schools came down our soul train line happy to see us and even joined us in our power greetings. There were also teachers who didn’t know exactly who we were but still eagerly participated in our power greetings and loved the energy we brought to the event.
The excitement did not stop at the entrance. There were prize giveaways to all of the schools such as recess equipment, books, Bucks’ tickets, and $500 scholarships for the schools to use for anything. There was also an example of a proud MPS 5th grader who showed her fearless pride and dynamic speaking skills by standing in front of the thousands of teachers to explain why MPS is still the best school district in Wisconsin. I smiled throughout the entire event and City Year was inspired by the spirit of great educators and employees who hold MPS together.
The point of it all? MPS has had a tough year from budget cuts, loss of students to gun violence, and the constant fight over takeover proposals. MPS employees were not looking too much at the past, but were focused on the future. Education will have its ups and its downs, but we are all in this together.
Even though there were multiple schools, we all have the same goal in life: to continue educating our youth to become something great in their life. Education is about bettering our crafts and figuring out how to make the next lesson the best. City Year is happy and I am happy myself to go through these struggles together.