October 11, 2019

My Principal Experience 

Andy Davey

Andy Davey head shot

This past Tuesday I had the privilege of being part of the Foundation for Madison Public School’s A Principal Experience. I spent the morning with two other guests – Tory Laube from Demco and Abby Schulz from TASC – at Hawthorne Elementary school, not far from my home on the east side of Madison. Instructional coach Lori Kluetzman was our guide into the complexities of Hawthorne.

Andy Davey at Hawthorne Elementary
Andy Davey shared A Principal Experience at Hawthorne Elementary School with Tory Laube from Demco and Abby Schulz from TASC.

We observed phonics lessons and bilingual classroom instruction (more than a quarter of the students are native Spanish speakers). We saw students reading independently on Chromebooks and playing and working together in a flexible art space.

I found two parts of the day most striking: The first was a visit to the parent resource center. Here we saw the food pantry, laundry room, winter gear collection, and other resources made available to families. Hawthorne staff estimate that at least 30 of the school’s families are experiencing homelessness.

The second was a visit to pedestrian tunnel a block away from the school underneath the busy thoroughfare of East Washington. This tunnel serves as important part of many students’ commute. The tunnel used to be dark, scary, and unsafe. With help from the school staff, the City of Madison, and Dane Arts Mural Arts, students created a beautiful mural to transform the tunnel. Through this project, students were able to demonstrate their creativity, fortitude, and talent as part of efforts to make the tunnel safer, reduce tardiness, and harness the power of arts education.

Hawthorne DAMA mural
Many students use this tunnel to get to Hawthorne Elementary School each day. This mural, done with the help of Dane Arts Mural Arts, has transformed it.

Both the parent resource center and the tunnel project are crucial parts of Hawthorne’s mission as a community school.

The day was both sobering and inspiring. It was an amazing learning experience. And it was a special window into the deep challenges in our community but also the heroic work being done every day in our public schools by students, families, staff, and community partners.

Did you know you that each Madison public school has an endowment fund at MCF? You can contribute to support your favorite school, the Foundation for Madison Public Schools, or any fund at MCF. Find your fund here.