By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
This past Monday, as a warm front settled across Lake Michigan, SHARP Literacy launched its first public campaign which aims to fundraise so they can bring their program to other urban schools in southeastern Milwaukee.
The announcement made by SHARP Literacy CEO Lynda Kohler and Discovery World CEO Joel Brennan, took place at Discovery World in hopes to raise $124,800. Due to the nature of the program, what would typically cost $104 per student, is offered at no cost to schools that wish to participate. However, in order to include more schools, SHARP decided to launch its first public campaign.
According to their website, SHARP formed under Marlene Doerr Kreilkamp. She felt that art could contribute to student achievement and in 1996 created an arts-based literacy program. Geared for students in junior kindergarten through fifth grade, SHARP utilizes the visual arts to help students harness and improve their reading, writing and research skills.
“Through SHARP Literacy’s programs, we strive to give our children better futures,” Kohler said.
Currently, SHARP works with 38 schools in Milwaukee and Waukesha County that equates to roughly 8,000 students. The plan is to incorporate the program, which is fully funded, with 12 more schools adding an additional 1,200 students.
SHARP and Discovery World discussed their collaboration through learning labs. Aside from literacy programs, SHARP’s newest program focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
As Milwaukee’s prime science museum, Discovery World plays hosts to all those willing to learn and explore the scientific discipline. As part of the campaign announcement, a tour of roughly 30 second graders explored several different exhibitions.
“By working together and uniting,” Brennan said, “…Discovery World and SHARP are opening the eyes of these young people to the Great Lakes and the opportunities that await them through literature and interactive education in the years to come.”
The students were there on behalf of SHARP. During the tour, the group learned new vocabulary words, engaged with interactive material and discovered more about the Great Lakes.
The tour split into three different sessions: “The Life of A Salmon,” “Great Lakes Past and Present” and “Reiman Aquarium”.
In part one, “Life of A Salmon,” students gathered in the Freshwater Sustainability Lab. They drew a freshwater habitat and learned words like “freshwater,” “habitat” and “horizon.”
The second occurred in the Great Lakes Future exhibit under the title, “Great Lakes Past and Present.” Students traveled through time to see the formation of the lakes, studied the water cycle and simulated a thunderstorm. Furthermore, they examined a sculpture that showcases life on the Great Lakes.
For the final part of the tour, students visited Discovery World’s Reiman Aquarium. Students took note of the variety of fish some of which lived in salt water and some in fresh water. As part of the interactive component, the children were allowed to pet some of the fish.
This final session also combined the vocabulary words they learned along the way including, “movement,” “habitat,” “Great Lakes” and “freshwater.”
With its first public campaign underway, SHARP hopes to help as many students and schools as possible. Their goal is to not only close the achievement gap but encourage children to be lifelong scholars.
Those wishing to donate can visit www.sharplitarcy.org.