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Award-Winning Educator Shares Secrets to Successful Teaching (Including Hugs)

An award-winning young educator and her principal share their ideas on what makes an effective teacher.

Milwaukee College Prep offers classes at three campuses on Milwaukee’s north side – its 36th, 38th, and Lloyd Street schools. Its 1,400 students face challenging life situations – almost nine in ten of them qualify for free or reduced lunch. And yet, the school’s intense academic and character-based education results in the vast majority of students scoring advanced or proficient in reading and math, and going on to graduate from high school.

The students start each day with a morning assembly that is one part marching orders and one part pep rally.

The kids leave the morning assembly – many of them giving their teachers a hug before heading into the classroom. The teachers seem just as enthusiastic to get to work. Second grade teacher Lauren Boyd is a good example. This fall, Boyd – who is in her third year as a full-time teacher - won the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee Early Career Award.

Lake Effect sat down with Lauren Boyd and her principal at the 38th Street campus, Maggy Olson to talk about what it takes to succeed at teaching.

“Building that relationship and having your students know that they can trust you, that you love them, that you respect them for who they are, and just really showing that daily,” says Boyd.

Boyd feels lucky to be at Milwaukee College Prep because of its friendly, warm, but hardworking atmosphere. Principal Maggy Olson says that the school and its staff strive for the school to be a family atmosphere, giving the students a sense of belonging and to let the scholars know that they are loved.

“We’re a huggy place,” says Olson. “We hug parents, we hug each other, and we hug the scholars. It’s just something that we do and we really want everyone to feel that love so that they feel safe and they know that no matter what that we will push them to college no matter what.”

Teachers engrain the idea in students that they are college-bound right from the start. The school's pods are named after different colleges and each day of the week has a different them, from mission statements to college shout outs to character lessons. The teachers strive for the students to work hard and to play hard.

“Even though I love them, I push them daily beyond their comfort zone to really make sure that they are ready,” says Boyd. “That they are performing at grade level and above that and that they are going to be ready to be successful adults.”