Coordinators Appreciation Week: Failure is Not an Option at North Division High School
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Coordinators Appreciation Week: Failure is Not an Option at North Division High School

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Lateff Alston (back row, third from left) with the Milwaukee Community School Coordinators team. 

September 28, 2018

Written by Lateff Alston, community school coordinator at North Division High School.

September 24-28 is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week! Learn more about the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership and check back here all week to learn more about the exciting projects going on at Milwaukee’s Community Schools.

I am Lateff Alston, the new community school coordinator at North Division High School.  I am employed though the Milwaukee Urban League and under the auspices of the United Way. Prior to this wonderful partnership, I worked for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin –Project Ujima as a community liaison for 12 years, serving youth survivors and families impacted by interpersonal violence. I also served as a health educator for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee-Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program for two years, teaching grades 6-12 in several MPS schools, and private schools including Messmer High School, my alma mater. This opportunity also afforded me the chance to teach at the Milwaukee House of Corrections working with their high school population.

I am motivated and optimistic at the many possibilities that North Division possesses. In spite of being labeled a “failing school,” low enrollment and a high absenteeism rate, the “spirit” of North Division is still felt in every square foot of that amazing edifice.  Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s central city 53206 area code, North Division has been a staple for educating youth since 1906. The students at North are surround by a brilliant group of amazing people that give tirelessly to educating our youth not only academically but also educating the complete student. Although low enrollment is an area of growth for North Division, the students tend to be much closer to one another forging a stronger bond corporally -- bond that is not easily broken.  School spirit is another unique quality of North Division High School. I’ve had the privilege to teach in several MPS high schools and I am ecstatic at the way the students “rep” their school. Everywhere you look, students are wearing the North Division logo somewhere on them. That says promise… that says hope!

The possibilities are truly endless to rewrite the school’s current narrative. A school that was the hub for educational greatness will be restored back to a mega power school it once was. I am most excited for the opportunity for theater to live again in North Division. Broadway products like Dream Girls, Westside Story, and A Raisin in the Sun just to name a few were the norm for this high school, which drew hundreds of people though it’s auditorium doors. Today, efforts are being made through a team of people comprised of current teachers and alumni to resurrect the fine arts department. I sit on the board not just as the community school coordinator but also as a “North Thespian.” I did not attend North Division High School but I was a part of all of the plays mentioned. 

Finally, my hope for the school harmonizes with many people in this community and that’s to see North Division High School become a force to be reckoned with in the MPS school district and across Wisconsin. For it to be not just a “thriving” school but a school that is ranked one of the best, if not the best school in Milwaukee.  Because at North Division “Failure is not an option…but success is.”

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