MPS flooded with volunteers after Sherman Park violence

Posted at 4:35 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 19:30:50-04

Just days after riots tore up businesses in Sherman Park, Milwaukee Public Schools had volunteers in school getting them ready for students to return.

Though the clean-ups were already planned, the group at Townsend High School held a new meaning in light of the unrest.

"It kind of grew in importance after the weekend's events. I think it sends a strong message to the community that the rest of the community is here and ready to support. That that school is alive and flourishing and there will be hundreds of students there in a couple of weeks," explained Heather Aschoff, the Partnership and Volunteer Associate for Milwaukee Public Schools.

Aschoff said her phone's been ringing, her inbox flooded in the last week, all with people wanting to connect with Milwaukee students.

"They want to get to know kids, they want to come to communities and spend time with students, they want to jump in, they want to help move the needle, they want to help students with literacy and math and we're happy to have that help," she said.

The district has a pre-planned even on September 1 for the first day of school, which happens to be at Sherman Elementary. Aschoff said it's the perfect location to bring together community members, elected officials and students - reminding Milwaukee's young people they are cared for and they are important. 

"A lot of our students really benefit from having adults who care," she said. "Have adults that they know are caring for them, who are rooting for them, that are following their academic success, their progression through school. Volunteers often play that role, in addition to our staff," said Aschoff.

She said the district usually has about 3,000 volunteers a year. She said the more, the merrier. Especially in a district whose economic and social challenges are more present than ever.

"Having more adults in buildings helps students fight those challenges as they come up, rather than in once incident," said Aschoff.

The district tells TODAY'S TMJ4 they don't have any specific plans to address Milwaukee's unrest with students, but they do have programs in place to help staff members address student concerns. It's called Trauma Sensitive Schools, which helps students cope with traumatic experiences.

If you're interested in volunteering with the district, you can find more information here.

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