Welcome from our New Head of School

Greetings, current families of Wingra School and prospective parents,

I’m excited to be your next Head of School at Wingra School. Moreover, I’m excited to have a partner, Charley Martin, Wingra’s first Associate Head of School, as we take the next step and focus on Wingra’s next 50 years. I have been tasked by both the Board and the community to not only sustain the school’s current reputation, financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, and educational philosophy but also to embody the collective consciousness of the mission and values of Wingra. This means continuing to grow our philosophy into practice. 

In his 1970s text Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Pablo Freire, a Brazilian Educational Philosopher coined the term Praxis, which is Theory + Action. As Wingra’s first Black Head of School, Black Lives Matter isn’t just a trendy catch phrase or a t-shirt but the praxis of our educational institution. Equity, Justice, Inclusion, and Belonging are not empty promises to parents, communities, and to Madison, they are our praxis at Wingra School. As our Board President Arlen Moss and our outgoing Head, Debbie Millon, remind me, “Ebony, these values and commitments have always been here. This is nothing new.” I want Wingra to both be the school you know, and the school it can be. A space for all humans, our praxis

Wingra will demonstrate our praxis through generous wrap-around support of our students and our families, valuing, recognizing, and properly compensating our teachers, and making sure our instruction is culturally responsive and sustained as it promotes our progressive educational philosophy. Wingra School has a commitment to grassroots and activist work across multiple communities and in Dane County at large— in addition to the ongoing acknowledgment of this Indigenous land, we are committed to its original peoples and its environmental sustainability.  Lastly, we will continue to strive to create a welcoming environment for all new and returning families. Our administrative team here at Wingra School will make sure these priorities are reflected in our budget and our decision making. This is our philosophy and our practice, The Wingra Way. 

Of course, there is no better way to understand Wingra than to experience it for yourself! We are excited to offer in-person tours again and know that, when you visit our campus, you’ll feel directly the energy and enthusiasm of our students and teachers as they explore what it means to be in community, both in and outside the classroom. I hope to see you soon!

With tremendous gratitude and welcome to Wingra School,

Ebony Rose

Head of School

We pledge to work to end systemic racism not only in our local Madison community, but in our school community as well. (Full statement below.)

Contact Information

718 Gilmore Street
Madison, WI 53711

Phone: (608) 238-2525
Email: info@wingraschool.org

Our History

Wingra is an independent progressive school for children ages five to fourteen located on a hillside across from the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, centrally-located in Madison. We’re on the Madison Metro bus line, which is our connection to the Overture Center, the downtown library, the State Capitol, the University of Wisconsin campus, and much more.
There’s a charm to our building, a history. Wingra School lives in the former Dudgeon School building, on Monroe Street.  At its founding in 1972, Wingra School set out to re-imagine education for children in our changing world.
The grass-covered lower yard and upper outdoor performance stage and indigenous playscape are Madison City parks that provide children with green space, trees, ball diamonds, swing sets, climbing structures, and wide-open spaces. The hill in the lower yard is great for sledding in winter!

In 1970 and 1971, five women, all with considerable knowledge in the fields of education and child development, set out to create a learning environment for children that followed many of the same philosophies as the “open classroom” or British primary model. It was a time when many educators questioned the effectiveness and benefits to children of the traditional, highly adult-centered practices in American education.

The open, informal, or British primary model was heavily influenced by the work of educator John Dewey and developmental psychologist Jean Piaget and was characterized by the following:
• Multi-age or “family” groupings of children
• “Learning centers” to move through during an openly structured school day
• Recognition that children are active constructors of their own knowledge
• Teaching as facilitating, guiding, and setting the stage for children’s discovery
• Learning as a highly individualized process, strongly bound to social connections and community responsibilities

Wingra’s founders’ original intent was not to create a new school but to demonstrate to the Madison school district a more child-centered, mixed-age approach in the hopes that they would implement it within the public schools. They tirelessly lobbied the school board, convincing them along the way to send several teachers to England to explore the open classroom.

Ultimately, the district proposed a three-year experiment starting with five-year-olds and adding an age group each year. This arrangement did not satisfy Wingra’s founders, in part because the true benefit of the family groupings would not be enjoyed until the third year. After thanking the district for its support and consideration, the founders opened Wingra School in 1972 in the Dudgeon building with 45 students in two classrooms. The school’s first teachers were Sam Jackson, JoAnn Schoell, and Jackie Hass.

Wingra expanded as interest in the school grew and younger students matured. In the mid-seventies, a class for 9 to 11 year olds was added. In 1983, Wingra started a program for the middle school years, ages 11 to 14.

Serving students from kindergarten through eighth grade presented new challenges and opportunities. The informal model, traditionally used with younger students and in early childhood settings, was reinterpreted to meet the needs of early adolescents. The classrooms for older students have become a high-quality alternative to large middle school settings.

Over the decades, Wingra has established connections with organizations that serve independent schools, including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Progressive Education Network (PEN), and the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools. Wingra is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS).

Job Openings at Wingra

Current posting

Wingra School is looking for Substitute Teachers to work with children ages 5 to 14 years. Teachers will strive to bring out the best in students while working with engaging, interactive curriculum based on a deep understanding of child development and a passion for the learning process. Work with multi-age groups of primary students (ages 5-7), intermediate students (ages 7-9 and 9-11) and adolescent students (ages 11-14) in all subject areas. Must be an excellent teacher who is resourceful, enthusiastic, organized and able to navigate the educational terrain with flexibility and grace.

Requirements:

  • Passion for teaching and commitment to the education of children
  • Ability to work collaboratively within a team
  • Friendly demeanor, sense of humor, and flexibility
  • Dependable and responsible
  • Prior experience in an educational setting

To apply:

Please send a cover letter, resume, and three letters of reference to: Charley Martin, Associate Head of School, at charley@wingraschool.org.

Wingra School is an independent school for ages five to fourteen centrally-located in Madison, Wisconsin. We value and respect all types of diversity and strongly encourage applicants from traditionally marginalized groups to apply. We prohibit discrimination and provide equal employment opportunity without regard to, and not limited to, ethnicity, religion, race, national origin, abilities, gender identity, age or genetic information. We recognize the inherent strengths that come from different viewpoints, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. As an organization, we have a commitment to examining our unconscious biases and want to work toward a just, equitable, and peaceful world.

Mission Statement

In service of learning, we practice responsive and progressive education, and strive for equity. In service of the whole person, we embrace unique gifts, experiences, and relationships. In service of social justice, we foster responsibility, advocacy, and compassion. In service of democracy, we nurture individual and collective growth. In service of the world, we cultivate curiosity, creativity, and innovation.

Wingra School is committed to attracting staff of varied backgrounds and to developing inclusive classroom communities that draw strength from a positive recognition of diversity. We value diversity in our community with regard to gender, race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, and ability.

Administrative & Building Staff

Ebony Rose
Head of School

About Me

Charley Martin

Associate Head of School

About Me

April Kigeya

Director of Business & Student Affairs

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Mary Campbell
Director of Operations

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Johanna Schmidt

Director of Enrollment & Marketing

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Elizabeth Garcia
Administrative Secretary

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Dave Hinterberg
Building Director

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Chhoeub Chaam
Custodian

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Eddie Smith
Custodian

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Teaching Staff

Debbie Blitz
Nest Teacher

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Benna Stengl
Nest Teacher

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Claire Fallon
Nest Teacher

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Clara Temlitz
Pond Teacher

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Molly Dall’Osto
Pond Teacher

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Shannon Richards
Lake Teacher

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Andrea Sherry
Lake Teacher

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Rachel Detra
Lake Teacher

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Claire Weiss
Sky Teacher

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Jen Greenwald
Sky Teacher

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Kathy Oker
Sky Teacher

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Lydia Portzen
Sky Teacher

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Stacy Corona
Spanish Teacher

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 Aviv Kammay
Music Teacher

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 Sarah Melton
Wellness Teacher

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 Danya Lanphear
Art Teacher

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Dana Prager
Librarian

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Scott Scholtens
Tech Teacher

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 Kathy McAleese
Student Support Advocate

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Ilsa Spenser
Extended Day Teacher

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Addison Leino-Sparks
Extended Day Teacher

About Me

Board of Trustees

Wingra School is a nonprofit organization governed by a Board of Trustees composed of parents, staff members, and community volunteers. The board provides support for all aspects of the school through fundraising, policy development, maintenance of the organizational structure, and participation in financial and long-range planning.

The board is self-perpetuating; new members are chosen by current board members to bring in needed strengths and talents. Staff members are nominated by the staff. It is important that potential board members are committed to Wingra’s mission and ownership and are able to “think big” in terms of systems, not details. Interested parties can find the self-nomination form here.

Board Statement-

Black lives matter. We denounce police brutality and call for a transformational redesign of local law enforcement, including removal of law enforcement from schools and replacement with counselors. We support the rights of all to advocate for themselves and others and confirm our commitment to stand behind our black youth as they advocate for creation of a world that is more just. We commit to using our time, treasure, and talent in support of local organizations, such as Urban Triage, Freedom Inc, and Madison for Black Lives, that are dedicated to lifting and amplifying young black voices. We pledge to work to end systemic racism not only in our local community, but in our school community, as well.

 

We, the white Trustees, commit to take the following actions:

  1. To continue to educate ourselves and each other on the insidious nature of our own racism. We must understand how our internalized racism affects our interactions with black people. We must learn our own history: how systemic racism was developed and continues to be upheld by white people, in order to be effective in the dismantling the process.

  2. To call each other out when we resort–whether consciously or unconsciously–to a position where we center our white thoughts and white actions without regard for the impact on black voices.

  3. To commit to creating a leadership pipeline for black Trustees to attain positions of power within the board. It isn’t enough to bring black voices onto the Board and we recognize that getting out of the way is essential to creating fundamental change.

  4. To de-center our own whiteness and our own white experience which is unique to us as those in the dominant white culture. We will sit with our own discomfort as we make mistakes and not seek closure or reassurance from our black colleagues. We recognize that it is not up to them to make us feel better.

  5. To work every day to lead the transformation of Wingra School to an anti-racist organization. Our history as a majority white institution means that there is much to be done and we pledge to use our white privilege to support the creation of a community based in equality and justice.

  • Vaunce Ashby (Vice President)

  • Stephan Gilchrist

  • April Kigeya

  • Melina Knabe (Secretary)

  • Julie Loehrl

  • Arlen Moss (President)

  • Kevin Panke-Buisse (Co-Treasurer)

  • Ebony Rose (Ex Officio)

  • Kailea Saplan (Co-Treasurer)

  • Daniel Sims

  • Clara Temlitz (Acting Secretary)

Parent Service & Participation

Within the Wingra community, partnerships and relationships are fostered through shared experiences among our students and their families. We want to know the important people in children’s lives and invite active participation in our school community for parents, extended family, and caregivers. We encourage active engagement in children’s education to help ground them and help them flourish. Through school-wide and classroom volunteer opportunities, our parent organization, and special events, there is a way for everyone to be involved.

At Wingra School, we have always depended on parent volunteers to help with school events and activities. Working on the premise that many hands make light work, we ask all parents to sign up for specific roles, activities, and events of interest. Early each summer, parents are asked to share their preferred service opportunities for the coming year through a Parent Service Form. In the fall, we let parents know how they can help the school, based on their expressed preferences.

The WFA brings together parents and caregivers to create opportunities to connect and learn from each other, build relationships, and support Wingra’s events and programs to strengthen our community.

Community Conversations • Family Game Night • Family Poetry Night • Clothing & Book Resales Sales • Teacher Appreciation • And More!

There are many ways to participate in the WFA with varying levels of commitment.

Parents have many opportunities to volunteer in their child’s classroom. That could include being a guest speaker or sharing an area of expertise, driving for a class field trip, providing classroom snacks as assigned, supporting teachers and students in the classroom, or tasks at home.

Community Connections

Preservice Teachers

Wingra School was founded as a private institution for the public good. One way we continue to realize this commitment is by hosting student and practicum teachers from local universities and colleges into our classrooms. We are fortunate to work with many educators, early in their careers, each semester.

Wingra Service Learning (WSL)

Wingra pursues service projects to connect with and support organizations within Madison. Service-Learning, as defined by Community Works Institute, is an educational strategy that combines academic and social goals to meet community needs. Collaboration occurs through compelling sense of purpose, engagement, and reciprocity among all partners.

Visiting Tours

A visitor to our school has much to learn about our intentional educational community. We host tours for current and future educators, university professors, and others interested in seeing firsthand how we cultivate an atmosphere of activity, learning, and freedom. One can feel it the moment the door is opened! We also strive to be a model for healthy ecological practices and invite neighbors and businesses to tour our building and witness how we give care to the environment.

New Morning Nursery School

New Morning Nursery School has much in common with Wingra School in its nurturing, child-centered approach. The school was formed as a non-profit cooperative by parents in 1972 and is located on a second floor wing at Wingra.