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National Family Engagement Fellowship

Milwaukee Team

Explore the Milwaukee Team’s findings, vision, and strategic plan, and get to know the people doing this powerful work for students and families in the Badger State.

Milwaukee Vision

Through trusting relationships and in equal partnership, ALL students are supported by families, school staff and community stakeholders who are equipped with the tools & knowledge that will lead to individual student success.

Welcome to Milwaukee

putting students and families at the center.

“What can we do to improve or increase our family engagement, to support kids and families, particularly when it comes to black and brown boys?” This was the question LaNelle Ramey, former Director of the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) sought to answer when he applied for Flamboyan’s National Family Engagement Fellowship. To build the team that could answer this question, Ramey activated connections that went as far back as childhood, and recruited established educators and engagers within MPS.

Each member of the Milwaukee Team brought a deep love for this great city on a great lake and an unrelenting desire to change outcomes for Milwaukee’s most marginalized students and families. During the team’s landscape assessment, it became clear that across the city – and throughout MPS – there was no unified definition or understanding of what makes great family engagement. With this clarity, the Team set about designing a pilot focused on two schools, including a high school in a zip code experiencing an influx of resources, the 53206. The Team asked, “How can we utilize that?”

The answer was a two-pronged approach: an educator professional development series to build capacity from the ground up, and a comprehensive communications campaign to shift mindsets and build investment for family engagement. Combined, the Milwaukee Team believes these strategies can create the buy-in and proof points necessary for REAL Family Engagement to thrive throughout their city.

In Their Own Words

“Family engagement, for me, really means working with the parent as a partner. Thye are the most important partner that I have in my work. When you let the family know that you care about their child, and you care about their perspective and their child’s perspective, it just makes the whole job of educating the child much easier. I just find working in partnership with the parent, it just makes the year more successful and more smooth.”

Dustine Walker
Teacher, Milwaukee Public Schools

Milwaukee Strategic Plan

Outcomes + Strategies

  • Launch a campaign about the impact and importance of REAL family engagement including concrete examples of what it looks, sounds, and feels like
  • Recognize and celebrate the unseen ways that families engage in their child’s education
  • Launch an MPS-led educator professional development series that focuses on shifting mindsets and beliefs
  • Equip educators with the skills to implement family engagement that goes beyond attendance-focused, strictly school-based strategies

Download the strategic plan

Milwaukee’s three-year vision is that through trusting relationships and in equal partnership, ALL students are supported by families, school staff and community stakeholders who are equipped with the tools & knowledge that will lead to individual student success.

Download Now

Milwaukee Team Talk | Who Am I?

Principal Groce calls on us to wake up and challenge the stories we’ve learned about families and students.

Fellowship Participants

Meet the Team

Milwaukee Public Schools

Teacher, Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School

In her 20 years of service for Milwaukee Public Schools, Dustine has gained extensive experience working with economically disadvantaged students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. She has served as a Special Education Comprehensive Behavior Unit teacher, a General Education teacher, and an Instructional Coach. She is currently a School Support Teacher at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School, where she focuses her coaching on equity in the classroom. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Teaching from Beloit College. She is deeply committed to serving urban youth and changing the narrative for those who are underserved and disenfranchised.

Connect with Dustine via LinkedIn.

Milwaukee Public Schools

Family & Community Engagement Associate

Jorge Mayorga is a Family & Community Engagement Associate with Milwaukee Public Schools. In his current role, he supports school leaders, parent coordinators, and school staff to partner with families in efforts for closing the achievement gap. Some of his major accomplishments include directing a Head Start Center, database manager, and advocacy work on behalf of immigrant families. He was born in El Salvador and raised in New York. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and in his leisure, time enjoys playing classical guitar, working on home remodeling projects, and listening to podcasts. What excites him about working in education is creating equitable opportunities for families of all backgrounds.

Connect with Jorge via LinkedIn.

Milwaukee Public Schools

Director, Strategic Partnerships & Customer Service

Kellie J. Sigh is the Director of Strategic Partnerships & Customer Service with Milwaukee Public Schools.  Her team is responsible for family and community engagement, partnerships, alumni & student engagement, volunteer services, and customer service.  Sigh’s vision for the department includes helping to create a sense of belonging for MPS families, alumni, students, and volunteers.  She is in her 8th year with MPS and brings over 20 years of corporate and public service experience to the district.

Sigh has a Bachelor’s Degree, conferred with honors, from Alverno College in Professional Communication.  She also holds an M.B.A. in Corporate Communication/Public Relations from Concordia University-Wisconsin where she also serves as an adjunct professor.  Sigh’s side gigs include facilitation and training,  voice-over work, public speaking and client relations training.  In her spare time she enjoys trying new restaurants, spending time with close friends and attending plays with her husband and two adult children.

Her top strengths are: Developer, Belief, Responsibility, Adaptability, and Maximizer.

Connect with Kellie via LinkedIn.

MENTOR Greater Milwaukee

Executive Director

LaNelle has been in the youth development profession for more than 20 years. He’s lent his expertise to organizations such as the YMCA, Milwaukee County Youth Detention Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and several other youth-serving organizations. He is a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI with a Bachelor’s in Pre-Law and Criminology and Master’s in Public Administration. LaNelle most recently was the Director of Black and Latino Male Achievement Department for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). His role is to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to improve the academic and life outcomes of Black and Latino male students throughout the school district. LaNelle is now the Executive Director of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee, where the mission is to increase Mentoring relationships by building the capacity of existing mentoring organizations matching a caring adult with children in need through safe, effective mentoring programs throughout Greater Milwaukee.

LaNelle believes in meeting families and youth where they are and provides resources that help them build self-confidence, reinforce dignity and respect, and create pathways to success. Prior to his role at MPS, LaNelle spent 13 years working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee serving in roles as Executive Branch Director, Area Director, and most recently Senior Director of Programs, where he oversaw a multitude of administrative and programming for families and youth, including family and youth events and family/youth recruitment/engagement strategies and direct services programming for youth.

Connect with LaNelle via LinkedIn.

Milwaukee Public Schools

Principal, Audubon Technology & Communication Center High School

LeonLeon Groce is the proud principal of the Audubon Technology and Communications Center. He is a proud alumnus of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) by way of Riverside University High School. He considers himself a living testimony that MPS can prepare its scholars for post-secondary achievement. As the building principal of Audubon, Leon serves as a leader who provides students with an enriching learning experience. He is committed to presenting every student with the services of highly qualified teachers, culturally relevant practices, engaging learning activities, and rigorous curriculum. Leon was the inaugural principal in a summer program entitled “Be the Change”, designed around increasing the literacy skills of black males. The program was specific to urban youth whose parents were looking for mentorship and there was a weekly outing involving the families in community building activities. Leon is currently in a partnership with a local arts program whose focus is on improving family time through the arts. His goal is to extend to families an open invitation to participate without reservation, in a practice that promotes accountability, goal setting, reflection, recognition, appreciation, and love… Family Engagement!

Connect with Leon via LinkedIn.

United Way of Greater of Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Director, Innovative Strategies for Boys & Men of Color

Shannon is the Director of Innovative Strategies for Boys and Men of Color for United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. A purpose-driven service leader, Shannon leads work that helps to shift the culture of health, education, financial stability, and mentoring systems through strategic and empathetic development.

In his role, he works to expand United Way’s partnership with community-based organizations, advocating to collectively counteract the most critical issues that plague boys and men of color, specifically in the Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County low-income communities. Shannon’s range of expertise on local and national issues is rooted in his ability in creating a mutually beneficial cohesion between public and private sectors, all the while progressing his vision for boys and men of color.

Shannon holds a master’s degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University, and a bachelor’s degree in Management of Information Systems with a minor in Business from Upper Iowa University. Reed serves as a board member for the Black Male Achievement Advisory Council, Continuum of Care Homelessness Executive Board, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Black Male Advisory Board.

Connect with Shannon via LinkedIn.

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National Family Engagement Fellowship

Learn how Flamboyan is building a network of family engagement leaders across the nation.

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