AFE Board Discussions

The Election Is Upon Us

Advocates of Education Whitefish Bay prides itself on being a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that works to promote high-quality public education in Whitefish Bay by:

  • informing residents about education issues and encouraging public participation in matters affecting our schools;
  • fostering a social and political climate favorable to public education; and
  • advocating for public policies that promote high quality public education in Whitefish Bay.

The United States Senate race in Wisconsin offers two candidates, both of whom have strong and opposing views on public education.

Russ Feingold supports the continuance and increase of governmental funding to support public education.

Ron Johnson supports parental choice in education, that would result in an ultimate reduction of government funds directed towards public education;

For Whitefish Bay absentee voting information: click here.

For Whitefish Bay’s sample ballot: click here.

AFE Board Discussions

Upcoming Parent Teacher Conferences

October means fall leaves, jack-o-lanterns, and if you have a student in Whitefish Bay schools, parent-teacher conferences. Whether you consider conferences a trick or a treat, conferences can benefit both parents and teachers if parents maximize the few minutes they spend face-to-face with their child’s teachers.

AFE members have asked our board for information on best ways to prepare for parent-teacher conferences.

According to Mike O’Connor, principal at the middle school, parents of middle schoolers should consider asking some of the following questions:

  • What are the most important standards you’ve covered so far?  How is my child doing in meeting those standards?
  • When do you see my child the most engaged with school?  When does he/she tune out?
  • How does my child treat other kids?  How is he/she treated by others?
  • What’s one goal you have for my child over the next month?
  • Tell me about a time my child has struggled in your class.  How did he/she overcome it?
  • What support can we provide at home that will ensure my child’s (continued) success?

O’Connor says, “Questions like these may give you a clearer picture of your child’s scholarship, character, and social interactions than a letter grade ever would.  This will be especially true if you bring your child with you to conferences!” Middle and high schoolers may attend their conferences, though most elementary conferences are parent-teacher only.

To get the most out of parent-teacher conferences, parents should be prepared to talk about their child, not simply hear what the teacher has to say.

According to Nancy Flanagan in her Education Week article, Seven Ideas for Meaningful Parent-Teacher Conferences, “conferences are an opportunity for two-way communication. They’re not merely a stage for teachers to give parents information on classroom performance, although many teachers do just that. Conferences are also a place for parents to tell teachers things about their child: How he likes to learn. What she says about the class at home. How he enjoys spending free time. What she says about other students in the class. After a good conference, both the parent and teacher know more about how things could be better.” For the full Education Week article, read more here.

Remember, conferences are just as much an opportunity for parents to communicate about their children, as it is to hear a status report from a teacher. Make the most of the time you have during conferences – even if it is only five minutes.

For the older grades, the majority of the evening is spent waiting in line.  Consider this an opportunity to get to know the parents of your child’s peers – they may provide new insight or new questions about your child’s experience at school.

AFE Board Discussions

School Board Retreat to Discuss Art, Music and Foreign Language Programming

There is a school board meeting tonight in Room 47 of the WFBHS, which will be preceded by a retreat by the school board at 6:00 PM.  The retreat is open to the public.

The discussion points from the agenda are:

  1. Competing priorities with respect to art, music, and foreign language programming.
  2. Student voice and choice in the areas of art, music, and foreign language programming.
  3. What effect should variances in course enrollment have on high school art, music, and foreign language programming?
  4. The “pipeline” for art, music, and foreign language programming from elementary to high school.

When AFE contacted the school board president to check on the purpose of the retreat, we were advised that the intent was to have a discussion around strategic questions like:

  • How do we balance the need for solid programming in these areas with financial costs?
  • What does a fine arts requirement in the high school mean?
  • How do we account for student choice and voice in programming?
  • Are there obstacles in the elementary and middle school programs to ensuring that all who are interested have the potential to enroll in these programs in high school?

A representative from the AFE Board will attend.

AFE Board Discussions

Screenagers Recap

On Tuesday, October 4, REDgen presented Screenagers.  The screening took place at Dominican High School and was well attended with well over 300 in the audience.  The movie presented information about brain development, effects of video games on the brain, social consequences, sleep issues, addiction concerns and treatment programs for addiction. It was realistic, informative, and at-times shocking.  The movie also discussed the effects of one-to-one computer programs in schools and evidence that it has created a larger achievement gap between high and low economic groups.

Two local pediatricians fielded questions after the movie. There were concrete suggestions given to help parents address screen use concerns in children and teens.

More information about future showings or how to request a showing at

They also have a Facebook page where they share more related research and help parents to keep the conversation going with their children.


AFE Board Discussions

Second Grade Goes Global

Jennifer Wilkinson is a board member of AFE. She is also a 2nd Grade teacher at Cumberland Elementary School.  Last year she was able to participate in a State Department sponsored fellowship program., Teachers For Global Classrooms. The following is her description of the program and the impact that it has had on her students.  

What do 2nd graders in St. Petersburg, Russia have in common with 2nd graders in Whitefish Bay, WI?  Is it possible to take 21 kids to Antarctica to visit penguins? Can 2nd graders think of a way to keep Lake Michigan healthy and clean and share their ideas with people around the world?  Over this past year as a participant in a fellowship program called Teachers for Global Classrooms, I discovered the answers to all of these questions and more. One of my greatest passions has always been travel, so when I saw a flier for a program for teachers that would send me to another country for two to three weeks, I did not think twice about applying. Little did I know that this application would introduce me to the idea of global education and result in an experience that would transform my approach to teaching.

Teachers for Global Classrooms is a US State Department sponsored fellowship for K-12 teachers in the USA.  The purpose of the program is to “equip teachers to bring an international perspective to their schools through targeted training, experience abroad and global collaboration”.  My cohort consisted of 80 teachers from around the country.  The fellowship began with an intensive online course covering theory and practice in global education. After the online-course was finished, both myself and my principal, Jayne Heffron, attended a Global Education Symposium in Washington DC. Both the online course and the symposium gave me a new understanding of the pace at which global developments will influence the lives my of students. The  reality is  that the 2nd graders I am teaching now will need to have an understanding of  and investment in the world beyond their immediate communities.  

I realized that this did not mean I had to add anything new to my curriculum, (we have more than enough to do! )  Instead, I used the  idea of globalizing my teaching help me to make my lessons more engaging and meaningful for my students.  For example, when learning subtraction, we compared the temperature of Whitefish Bay with cities around the world and calculated the differences. For our reading classes we found another classroom in Ohio that was reading the same book and exchanged letters sharing our ideas and thoughts about the characters. In our science class, we were able to Skype with a researcher in Antarctica to learn about how penguins adapt to their environments. For social studies, we collaborated with a German class to create upcycled objects as a way to reduce plastic waste in the environment. The kids were learning, and it was fun! They were also learning to consider perspectives other than their own and get the idea that it is possible to take action to make changes, even though they are just seven years old!

The final part of the program (and the reason I had initially signed up!) was the international field experience. I was beyond excited to learn that I would get to travel to Colombia, a country that I knew almost nothing about. I was able to spend three weeks there touring schools, cultural sights and working with Colombian teachers.  I saw and experienced more than I could possibly convey in this short article, but my biggest take away from my time there was the observation that education is the single and most powerful way to empower people to improve their lives. This is as true in Whitefish Bay as it is in Colombia.

I am excited to continue to build on the connections that I made during this fellowship to establish even more meaningful connections between my students and kids from around the world. I am even more excited to see my teaching colleagues take some of these ideas and integrate them into their teaching.  
You can read more about Jennifer’s trip and global education by going to her blog: 2nd Grade Goes Global

AFE Board Discussions

SB Listening Session Wed. 6/8/16

The School Board will be conducting a listening session on Wednesday at 6:00 PM in room 47 of the HS. (enter off the back parking lot at the glass doors that are furthest east) to get feedback on their proposed changes to the grade school world language curriculum.  Basically students will be working online rather than with a teacher to study the language of their choice.  What are your thoughts?  The time to share them is this Wednesday.

Copy of the Meeting notice click here

Background on the World Language Pilot study click here

To access the online google form for feedback we recommend calling the district office at 414-963-3901 during business hours for a link.  We were unsuccessful in copying the link as it appears on the copy of the memo to a browser.*

*UPDATED 6/6/16:  If you are unable to attend the session, but would like to provide feedback to the listening session, we now have a link.  Click here for the online google survey provided by the district.