At United Way, we know that regular attendance at school is the first step to student success.
Lincoln Avenue Elementary on Milwaukee’s south side had an issue: when students were at school, they were learning and thriving. However, some students were often absent from school.
“When we asked parents why they weren’t sending their kids to school, they told us that they didn’t feel the neighborhood was safe,” said Lincoln Avenue principal Yaribel Rodriguez. “If mom, dad, or a sibling was sick and they couldn’t walk their child to school, they were not comfortable sending them out to walk alone.”
Principal Rodriguez knew the school had to find a creative solution to ensure all kids could safely travel to school, so she turned to the Lincoln Avenue Community School Leadership Team (CSLT). Together the CSLT, made up of the principal, the school support teacher, the social worker, and the community school coordinator, explored the idea of starting a Walking School Bus.
“The concept of the Walking School Bus is simple,” said Regina Stieber, community school coordinator at Lincoln Avenue. “Teachers and parents walk a predetermined route, pick kids up along the way, and everyone travels safely together to school”
Lincoln Avenue’s Walking School Bus started with one day a week and was an instant hit. “Kids and parents started noticing us walking and asking to join,” said Regina. “The Walking School Bus is targeted at students with low attendance, but any student on the route is welcome to walk with us!”
United Way is a proud member of The Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership, a collective strategy to transform schools into places where students, families, staff, and the surrounding community work together on innovative solutions that ensure success for every student.
Lincoln Avenue Elementary is one of 10 Milwaukee Community Schools supported by donations to United Way.
“The Walking School Bus is a perfect example of what Community Schools do: engage and share leadership with parents and the local community to understand barriers to student success and work together to find creative solutions,” said Ryan Hurley, director of the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership at United Way.
Zablocki Elementary, another Community School on Milwaukee’s South Side, has just started their own Walking School Bus.
“The idea for the Walking School Bus really came from the community itself,” said Regina. “They are the ones who talk about safety, they are the ones who asked for a safe way for their kids to get to school.”
“The Walking School Bus helps build trust with parents who now know their kids are safe,” said Principal Rodriguez. “It’s a very good thing.”
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