Week 4:
So Long For Now

Cornell Fellow in Sociology & Community Outreach

O'Keeffe Middle School | Madison, Wisconsin

November 19, 2018

At parent-teacher conferences  I asked families to fill out a survey on communication.

Monday was parent teacher conferences. Jamie created a survey about the communication ties between O’Keeffe and families and my job was to ask parents to fill it out while waiting for their meeting. We sent the survey in an email, had laptops set up throughout the building and I approached individuals asking them to fill it out. We had a 20% response rate, which was better than normal for the school. 

Some of the feedback that the students gave in the restorative justice workshop was that students want spaces to be heard. Last year they had a pilot program called Natural Circles of Support, a black youth empowerment group, where a small group of African American girls came together with a facilitator to talk and to be heard. O’Keeffe wants this to be a full time opportunity for students, but there isn’t enough funding. This week I found a grant that we are applying to for $3,000 which would cover the cost to have the facilitator and professional development for teachers for a year. 

The grant video on Youtube.

The non-profit that gives out grants is called  Forward Community Investment and their grant is for racial and economic equity. The application is a 3-5 video explaining what we would be using the funding for. They don’t care about the quality and don’t want people to spend money on it (they call it iPhone quality). On Friday I set up an iPad in the library and filmed three students who were part of the circle last year, Tony (the principal), Maria (a social worker who was apart of the program at an elementary school) and Jamie. I spent the afternoon and into the evening editing the video, splicing together clips of each person to create an explanation of why O’Keeffe needs the funding to bring Natural Circles of Support back. I had a lot of fun editing the video and focused on the girls responses, because their wisdom perfectly explained the importance of these spaces.

The entryway mural at O’Keeffe.

This was my last week at  O’Keeffe until January. I will go back to Cornell for block 4 to take my senior seminar, go home for winter break and then I will return to O’Keeffe for another month. It was bittersweet leaving on Friday. I have made great friendships with the O’Keeffe staff and I was getting into the groove of the projects I was working on. I look forward to continuing my work at O’Keeffe as my senior seminar project and then returning in the new year. 

Madison Evans '19

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