Menomonee Falls mom turning two-bedroom apartment into small classroom for daughter, friends

Posted at 12:29 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 19:54:30-04

MENOMONEE FALLS -- — There are a lot of learning options are out there: In-person, virtual, hybrid -- and not every school or parent has figured out a plan. But families are coming up with their own, like Kris Piotrowski of Menomonee Falls.

The mother told TMJ4 News she is transforming her two-bedroom apartment into a small classroom this fall. Five children, grades 2 to 6, including her 7-year-old daughter, will make up what many refer to as a "learning pod."

Piotrowski said sending her child to school isn't an option.

"Early this year, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, so when coronavirus came out, I got really serious about it because I was his caregiver," she said.

The pandemic has sparked interest in different schooling solutions, like these small gatherings of different grades in homes where children can virtually learn, and social distancing isn't as much of a challenge.

Websites are surfacing like -- to connect families with teachers -- many consider the option as a way to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.

"These are kids that are hanging out together anyways. We're kind of a pod already these three families," Piotrowski said.

She said her mom is paying for the desks, tablets, and a teacher, which Piotrowski is trying to hire now. Here's her Facebook post about the job opportunity.

She needs a professional to help manage and organize all the childrens' online curricula. Piotrowski said her mom didn't hesitate to step in and help financially.

"She said, what do you need for these kids to make this work?" Piotrowski told TMJ4 News.

Not everyone wants to or can pay for learning pods. Libraries are always budget-friendly. Kristi Helmkamp works for Milwaukee Public Library. She's the Management Librarian at Central Library Children's Room.

"One of our options is Library Now where students can access all of our databases online for research," Helmkamp said.

While nearly all of the Milwaukee library locations aren't fully open, students can go to the library's main website and access free tutoring through an online program called Brainfuse.

"It is live so there is no delay in a response in which you are having answers met, so there's a support for a range of ages and subject matters," Helmkamp continued.

There's also virtual storytimes for kids in English and Spanish every weekday morning and some library locations offer curbside pick-up for books.

"If you don't have a library card right now, what the Milwaukee County Library system is doing is, you can sign up for an e-card online, and that would give you access to the content," she said.

After assisting her daughter with virtual learning in Spring, Kris Piotrowski knew she had to make changes in how her daughter learned this Fall.

"I'm the lunch lady and the janitor. That's going to be my role because last semester I found out I'm definitely not a teacher," she said.

If you're a Milwaukee resident and you're interested in free resources at the library, check out the links below.


Library Now:


MPL Events, Programs & Classes Calendar (includes all virtual programs):

MPL YouTube Channel (includes recorded programs and book recommendations for youth):

Teen Advisory Board Application:

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