Week 3:
Did You Vote?

Cornell Fellow in Sociology & Community Outreach

O'Keeffe Middle School | Madison, Wisconsin

November 11, 2018

Election Day Bake Sale

The midterm elections were an important theme this week (I made sure to vote before I left Mount Vernon). The tension was high at O’Keeffe, because the gubernatorial race is so important to public schools. Scott Walker had stripped funding for schools down to the bones and I can see the negative effects. For example, my advisor has two roles at O’Keeffe and there are at least ten missing people in the building that they can’t afford to hire. Tony Evers, a former educator and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is also running. It is very clear which candidate supports public education and the race is so close, predictions had them tied. The teachers were very relieved when Evers won the race because he plans to pour money into public education. I heard teachers speak hopefully about the future of education in Wisconsin and finally having funding to improve the capabilities of their school.   

Waiting for the election results to roll in

O’Keeffe is a precinct for voters and the Parent Teacher Group (PTG) held a bake sale which I helped out at. I wanted to have a donation jar for art supplies (the art teacher will be out of basic supplies like glue and markers by winter break) but it did not work out. The PTG fundraise’s for the school and decide where the money goes. I did talk to a parent who owns a coffee shop who said that he will put out a donation jar for art supplies. Working the bake sale was a great time for me to introduce myself and network with parents. 

One of my goals in Madison is to look into graduate school. On Thursday I visited Edgewood College’s graduate school for an informational interview. I am currently interested in social work or therapy, and Edgewood has a Marriage and Family Therapy program. I was able to ask all of my questions and I came away with a better idea of how their program operates. I went in excited about their program and left a little less enthusiastic, which is not what I expected and very important to know. From what I know about graduate school, it is all about finding the right fit with faculty and the program. While I am in Madison, I am going to look into UW Madison as well. I contacted UW Madison’s social work program and I will try to set up a tour and  drop into a class next week.

O’Keeffe staff and students with social justice advocate Fania Davis at the Restorative Justice Workshop.

On Friday I went to a Restorative Justice workshop with Jamie and three students. The workshop was led by a restorative justice leader from Oakland, CA and it was for at risk youth in the Madison school district. The whole workshop was masterfully crafted and well facilitated. It built trust between students and also between teachers and students. At the end, each school got into a group and the students had a chance to give honest feedback to their educators, with the goal of creating an action plan for the school. The O’Keeffe students voiced that they want more space in school for restorative justice circles, they want black history taught in class (not just about slavery) and they want their voices to be heard by teachers everyday. Jamie and the students talked at length about the logistics of incorporating these this actions into the classroom. Overall, the workshop was a wonderful, productive and restorative space for students and educators to come together and start doing the work.


Madison Evans '19

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