September 1st marks the first day of school for the majority of MPS students

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MILWAUKEE -- Thursday, September 1st was the first day of school for the majority of Milwaukee Public Schools' 75,000-plus students.  The first day back is special for any school. But something unique happened on Thursday at Sherman Multicultural Arts School in Milwaukee.

Sherman Multicultural Arts School not only kicked off its new year on Thursday, it also had the honor of representing all of MPS in doing so.

September 1st marks the first day of school for majority of MPS studentsMPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver and members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors were joined by Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Evers and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to mark Day One for traditional calendar schools. The event began at 7:30 a.m.

Sherman Multicultural Arts School is located in the heart of the Sherman Park community and is close to St. Joseph Hospital. It has an enrollment of approximately 500 students in grades K-3 to eighth grade.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver walking in with students

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver walking in with students

This school is not far from where the unrest took place in the wake of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith  -- but that wasn't what Thursday was about. It was about kicking off a new school year right.

"It is very important because not only do we get to meet the students, but we get to meet their families, and we get to help them start to get into the routine of being back in school. We get to establish that rapport with the parents and with the students," said Tracy Holmes, K-5 MPS teacher.

This year, Sherman Multicultural Arts School is part of the White House "Turnaround Arts" program -- an arts and humanities focused program designed to increase student achievement. MPS is the only district in the state selected to take part. Four MPS schools are part of the program.

"We have to continue the course around social, emotional learning and really building relationships -- positive relationships between teachers and students, but also between our students and parents, and teachers and teachers. It really is all of us working together to help create a better school system, and making sure our young people have what they need to be successful," Dr. Driver said.

According to MPS, the following are areas of focus for the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Algebra readiness: Working with students in grade school to help prepare them to be successful in algebra
  • Literacy across all subjects: Strengthening incorporation of reading and writing into subjects such as science and social studies to boost literacy
  • World languages: Increasing the number of world language course offerings, including American Sign Language, to prepare students for more rigorous graduation requirements
  • Rethinking high schools to better serve students: Expanding Advanced Placement course offerings through the use of Telepresence at eight high schools, adding Pulaski High School as an International Baccalaureate candidate school, implementing a Freshman Bridge program to help ninth graders successfully transition to high school, expanding workforce development initiatives such as the agriculture program at Vincent High School and culinary arts with the ProStart program at four high schools, implementation of Universal Drivers’ Education
  • Continuing to implement the Regional Development Plan to create more enrollment opportunities in high-performing schools: Opening the new addition at Fernwood Montessori School, adding a second campus for Milwaukee Spanish Immersion School, making Victory School a full Italian immersion school, moving King Middle Years to a larger, newly renovated building, and the addition of a second campus for Hmong American Peace Academy