Week 1:
Madison in Madison

Cornell Fellow in Sociology & Community Outreach

O'Keeffe Middle School | Madison, Wisconsin

October 27, 2018

My first day at O’Keeffe Middle School.

This blog will document my time as an intern at O’Keeffe Middle School in Madison, WI. For 8 weeks I will be working on reaching out to the O’Keeffe community, working on engagement, finding donors and listening to teachers, students, staff, parents and community members. I will share my successes, failures and learning moments throughout this experience.


On my first day I got a crash courses lesson on how an urban middle school functions. I first met the Principal, Tony, the office staff and a few teachers. My advisor, Jamie, is a family friend and she was very helpful showing me around and introducing me to people. Jamie set up a meeting for me with a vital community member to discuss a plan for my time at O’Keeffe. We talked for a hour and a half about the issues O’Keeffe faces and strategies to start solving them. On this list is the following: creating a map of assets in O’Keeffe’s school zone, building relationships with key community members, creating connections with parents and finding community partners to donate money towards equitable programming.

My big task this week was to create a visual map of the student population. Google Maps has a tool which allows you to upload a spreadsheet. So with my data skills that I learned at Cornell, I created a  Google map that showed the outline of O’Keeffe’s zone and each student’s primary address. This gives a visual representation of which neighborhoods students come from and gives clues to staff about local resources for each student. It is also useful for me to know which areas I should reach out to based on where there are concentrations of students. Businesses might be more likely to partner with us if they know how vital their business is for O’Keeffe’s families. I spent a lot of time this week meeting with parents, listening to their problems, thoughts and ideas for the future. I learned that often you have to listen through the problem to reach the root cause.

I spent the afternoon running around the Capital building trying to find a list of local businesses

I was also able to walk around the community this week. I walked up and down the commercial areas in O’Keeffe’s zone, taking note of businesses that could be assets and potential partners. To create a map of businesses you have to know what exists. I tried to short-cut this process by looking for a list of all the businesses in Madison, WI (because it seems logical that someone would have a list like this). I visited the Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District and several non-profits that focused on local businesses with no such luck. I even looked at the yellow pages, but their website is impossible to collect data from. In the end I resorted to the old school way, walking around and taking notes.

Madison Evans '19

Madison is a sociology major and art history minor from San Francisco, California.