Insight News

Feb 08th


Judge Tanya Bransford: A Minnesota African She-ro

Judge Tanya Bransford: A Minnesota African She-roOften times when African Americans teach their children about their incredible history and culture and the tremendous contribution that people of African descent have made to the United States and the world, they forget to teach their children about the giant heroes and she-roes that are right here in Minnesota.

For the last several years, WE WIN Institute, Inc has been teaching Black children, ages 5-18, about the enormous impact that African Americans in Minnesota have made. Living in a state that has a Black population of less than 5 percent, it is essential that African American children have a thorough understanding of the contributions of people who look like them.

Students in WE WIN’s summer program studied the life of Judge Tanya Bransford. Reading materials about the judge were developed for the five-year-olds and the 15-year-olds. They discussed her life, answered questions and drew her pictures.

Introducing the new Superintendent of Schools

Introducing the new Superintendent of SchoolsAs your new Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, I am extremely hopeful for the future and excited to lead our efforts to raise academic achievement for all students. I believe more strongly than ever that our top priorities lie in narrowing the achievement gap and offering all of our students a high-quality education that prepares them for college and/or a career.

During the summer, we are busy. We are working to find new ways to increase student achievement. Summer is a wonderful time to make learning fun and interesting for children. Summer school classes began June 28. Our summer school programs for elementary and middle school students target the areas of reading and math through an exciting new curriculum: Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading. The summer programs we offer also incorporate activities such as canoe trips and visits to local parks and museums. The courses accelerate learning, expand vocabulary and provide students with a hands-on approach in the classroom.

The Importance of the SATs and PSATs

Many colleges and universities require a standardized test such as the SAT or ACT for admissions.  The reason colleges and universities require these tests is to have a consistent way of measuring students who are applying to the school.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, is usually taken your junior and/or senior year.  It is better to take it your junior year so that you can re-take it if you don’t like your score and want to improve it.  This test, most of the time, is a major part of your overall college application.  To help prepare for the SAT, students take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test or PSAT.  This test is offered every October, and can be taken your freshman, sophomore, and/or junior year.  The SAT occurs from October to June (check for specific dates).

Minneapolis students earning cash for trash

Minneapolis students earning cash for trashSeveral area schools, including Seward Montessori and the Barton Open School, have recently signed up to collect used Malt-O-Meal cereal bags, along with other non-recyclable trash items, as part of one company’s mission to eliminate waste. That company, TerraCycle, pays the schools for their used cereal bags through their free, nationwide program called the ‘Brigades’. TerraCycle then uses waste to make new products, from pencil cases to kites, thus keeping the trash from ending up in a landfill.

The New Jersey based company, TerraCycle, and the Minneapolis-based Malt-O-Meal Cereal Company have partnered in order to create 1,250 Malt-O-Meal Cereal Bag Brigades in elementary and secondary schools across the country. Malt-O-Meal makes over 25 varieties of ready-to-eat cereal including some of the country’s most popular cereals. All Malt-O-Meal cereal varieties can be collected and upcycled by Malt-O-Meal Cereal Bag Brigades. “Bags create 75% less packaging to dispose of than comparable cereal box packaging that includes both a box and an inside bag(1),” said Paul Reppenhagen, Director of Marketing at Malt-O-Meal. “Now, for every Malt-O-Meal cereal bag that is collected and returned to TerraCycle, we can reduce that packaging waste to zero.”

T Williams: Helping to ensure a positive school reforms for our children

T Williams: Helping to ensure a positive school reforms for our childrenThe joyful sounds of kids spending their summer days in the parks or down the street tell us school’s out for the summer. The primary election is August 10 this year, and what happens in August may very well determine the November general elections and beyond. A large field of candidates are vying for two at large seats for the Minneapolis School Board. For us that means we must be clear on who represents the best choices for those two seats.

It is with a sense of urgency that we have found ourselves jumping onto the campaign team to support T. Williams’ re-election bid for School Board. We are compelled to help T. get re-elected because we have witnessed a number of positive changes taking place in our Minneapolis Public Schools. We need to keep those changes going in the right direction because they are good for our children. We do not believe our children will be adequately served without quality, experienced African American representation on the board.

Help with college choices

For many high school students, choosing the right college has always been a tough decision to make. There are so many questions to consider: What do I want to major in? Which colleges are known for my major? Do I want to go out of state or in state? Do I want to go to a large school or small school? What can I do to stand out of the crowd and get into the college I want? 

As a rising sophomore in high school, I am finding that it is not too early to start answering the questions listed above. The hard part is where to begin.

The easiest place to start is the Internet. This place is also one of the hardest spots to find information. The problem that arises is that you are given an infinite number of websites to explore and not all of them will have the answers you are looking for. Some of the websites may even give the wrong information.

Walker West preserves legacy of musical excellence

Walker West preserves legacy of musical excellenceWalker West Music Academy

Music is alive on any given weekday afternoon in the modest building situated on the corner of Selby Avenue and Avon Street in the historic African American Rondo Community of Saint Paul. Children are keying chords on a grand piano, exercising vocal chords, or practicing an instrumental on horn. This is the location of the historic Walker West Music Academy, a 501c(3) non-profit community school of music, and one of the only African American arts organizations in the nation with a 20 plus year history, that is still in operation.

Over the years Walker West has produced decades of musical phenoms with international appeal, such as recording artists and musicians Larry Waddell and Stokely Williams of Mint Condition; jazz performing artist, songwriter and music teacher Paris Strother; and song writer, performer and recording artist Nikki Jean. Students and their parents come to Walker West in throngs because of its ability to produce skillful musicians; for the guidance and credibility of its dedicated founders the Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West; curriculum focused on music performance and instruction strongly influenced by the African American experience; and the commitment of accomplished staff. A portion of the school’s mission reads as follows:
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