MILWAUKEE, WI -- A local program is making a significant impact in area schools in some of the toughest areas of the city.

It is likely you have never heard of the SHARP Literacy program. But mention it to one of the students benefitting from it, and you will probably catch a smile and notice the child stands a little taller. That is all thanks to the extra support they receive from SHARP.

"I've seen non-readers want to read," said Blessed Sacrament School second grade teacher Litza Janowski. "I've seen non-writers want to write. Tell a child they can be an author, and watch 'em smile."

SHARP provides materials to students at no cost throughout the school year, that those students then use to create a book that is published. It features the work they put into their studies. And there is another take away the children in the Spanish-speaking communities benefit from.

"Proud, so I can teach my family," 5th grade Blessed Sacrament student Melvin Zamudia told CBS 58.

"It's exciting, so I can teach my family. I teach my little cousin and my grandma," echoed 5th grade Blessed Sacrament student Natalie Cardenas.

"I like to be the teacher at home," said 3rd grade Blessed Sacrament student Luis Cervantes.

Blessed Sacrament School Second grade teacher Litza Janowski has worked with SHARP in the classroom for nearly two decades. She has seen the far-reaching impact beyond just her classroom, because she is also the dean of students. She told CBS 58 the program actually benefits everyone involved.

"They like learning about it," said Janowski. "They get excited about it. It's content that fits right in with our curriculum. So it's not an's something we can just jump right into it. And it gives them the tools to be successful."

SHARP Literacy president Lynda Kohler points to the success of the program; considering they are in some of the toughest parts of the area -- in which 85 percent of their students qualify for free meal programs. She said that 30 percent of SHARP students perform better than students at the highest performing schools in Milwaukee.

"To see the pretest versus the post test result, to see how many words that they actually gained, and the writing challenge," said Kohler. "Not that think they know the definition of the word, but they can use it in the context of a sentence."

"These guys smile," said Janowski. "They get excited. It eliminates discipline issues because they're so actively engaged. The questioning. I mean they're just preparing for the future. And to me it just makes my heart beat. I don't know, I'm getting choked up."

Most importantly, the students gain confidence in themselves as well as quench their thirst for learning. When third-grader Luis Cervantes was asked how he feels about taking part in the program he said, "Great and happy. And kind of smart."

Each year the students visit the Milwaukee Art Museum as part of the program. There is a good reason why.  SHARP was started by a docent at the museum. The SHARP Literacy program is making Milwaukee great.

News information provided by Nate Kuester and CBS 58 News.

Schools News


Great news from St. John the Evangelist (SJE) in Greenfield! The Environmental Club, under the leadership of teacher Emily Tseffos, received a grant from the American Heart Association to build a teaching garden on our grounds. The American Heart Association will provide SJE with the basic supplies and materials to establish and maintain a garden. The Association will give them technical support for maintaining the garden and a cross-curricular, standards-based gardening and nutrition education curriculum. In addition, they will be receiving ten raised bed planter boxes, soil, gardening tools, plants and educational materials.

The teaching garden will be used to influence healthy eating behavior in students. It will teach nutritional education, responsibility, team building, environmental awareness and concern, science process, math skills, problem solving and build confidence and self-esteem in students.

This is a unique opportunity for SJE and the Archdiocese to let the community at large know about our great news. SJE's hope is that this garden becomes a focal point of our community, builds intergenerational learning and activities, and is a living example of our Catholic Social Teachings.




On Friday, January 31, the 300+ school children of St. Mary Catholic School (Menomonee Falls) gathered for a special blessing of the 80 backpacks they gathered and packed with paper, pencils, notebooks, markers and a stuffed animal for Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program.  Case Managers in the program are excited to begin distributing the backpacks to new arrivals.  Current refugees, assigned through the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) are coming from Myanmar (formerly Burma), Somalia, Iraq and Cuba.

Other participating schools in the Catholic Schools Week special collection, include: 

- St. Francis de Sales Grade School (Lake Geneva) and St. Vincent Palloti Grade School (Milwaukee) collecting cleaning supplied for In-Home Support Services for the elderly and disabled.

- St. Joan of Arc Grade School (Nashotah) collecting diapers and baby supplied for Pregnancy Support and Outreach clients.

Click here to read more!



Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Schools Experience

Second Enrollment Increase in Three Years


Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are reporting a combined enrollment increase for the second time in three years according to enrollment data recently released. This news comes as Catholic schools across the archdiocese gear up for the annual Catholic Schools Week celebrations.

“Our mission as leaders of the 113 Catholic schools in the 10 counties of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is to offer high quality Catholic education that is affordable and accessible to all, said Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Dr. Kathleen Cepelka.  It’s encouraging to witness the ongoing growth of our schools, to build new models that will sustain them into the future, and to collaborate with so many groups and individuals to enable their continued success.”

Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2014, recognizes the educational excellence provided by the nation’s 6,685 Catholic elementary and secondary schools. Over 2 million students attend Catholic schools in the United States. In southeastern Wisconsin, 99 elementary and 14 secondary Catholic schools educate more than 31,000 students.

This year’s Catholic Schools Week theme is “Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”  The theme reflects what sets Catholic schools apart from other educational institutions in that faith and service are integral to the educational experience.

Click here to learn more about this exciting weeklong celebration and to find upcoming events.



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