Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Features
St. Marcus Lutheran School
by Jennifer Tomazic


MILWAUKEE -- While it may seem like a lot of school districts are having to make cuts these days one school in Milwaukee is expanding.

St. Marcus is on it's second phase of renovations: this one will house a gym and a stage. The first phase was all about classrooms, letting the Lutheran school open it's doors to more students.

The expansions are thanks to donors who are taking notice of the success of St. Marcus students. The school says 85% of students are proficient or advanced in reading.

The teachers at St. Marcus have an elevated energy level. They need to because the school has elevated expectations of it's students.

"We ask the kids to work really really hard-a whole grade level above what their peers are doing around the city," said 5th and 6th grade reading teacher, Alli Weihing.

But she says the students embrace the challenge and strive even more. Weihing says they see the bigger picture than just getting good grades.

"They want to get further and further ahead because they see the need," said Weihing. "They see the need in the community and city and they know there's a problem that needs to be fixed and they want to be part of the solution."

Gianna Matthews is one of those students. She takes advantage of the unlimited access to her teachers: they all have school-issued cell phones and they are available to their students 24/7.

"She (Gianna) would call me every night to get her math checked so we could go over problems over the phone because she wants it so badly, she's a girl with a plan," said Weihing.

The students are rewarded for their good grades with a different color necktie. Each of them is given a red one a the beginning of the year, but they can earn different striped ones based on their GPA.

"I'm hoping I'll get on the high honor roll to get a new tie," said Gianna. "I would feel excited, happy and proud of myself that I achieved something."

Principal Jon Boche says while faith-based learning is the foundation of the teaching at St. Marcus, the close teacher-student relationship is also what helps everyone to be successful.

"We believe we have a moral obligation to the city to provide a great education to as many kids as possible," said Boche.