Since one of South Milwaukee’s strategic goals focuses on Character Education, it was a great honor for the School District of South Milwaukee to be designated by the Wisconsin Character Education Partnership (WCEP) as a State School District of Character. The School District of South Milwaukee is the only district in Wisconsin to receive the 2015 award and only the second district in the state to have ever earned this distinction.  

In addition to the Character Education recognition, the School District of South Milwaukee became the first school district in southeastern Wisconsin to be awarded School System Accreditation from the AdvancED Accreditation Commission in 2014. This distinction by the most rigorous accreditation organization in the United States means that the School District of South Milwaukee and all of its schools meet international standards of quality and demonstrate a commitment to excellence.

The accreditation process involves three ongoing components:  1) meeting high quality standards; 2) implementing a continuous process of improvement; and 3) engaging in quality assurance through internal and external review.  The system’s accreditation is for a five-year term with regular monitoring of progress and reporting occurring during the term.

We are very proud of both the AdvancED Accreditation and the State School District of Character accomplishments because they recognize the School District of South Milwaukee for its commitment to excellence, openness to external review and feedback, and desire to be the best we can be on behalf of the students we serve.

Parents and interested community members can learn more about the System Accreditation Process at

To learn about the specific initiatives developed and promoted within the larger character driven education of the schools, please see the state website at

District Vision and Mission

Over the past six years, the School District of South Milwaukee has engaged staff, students, parents, and community members in a dialogue about how to create the best possible future for our students. Through our Visioning and Planning  process, we have established our mission, vision, and core beliefs and aligned our action plans to four areas: Curriculum Expectations, Character Education, Community Engagement, and Capital Effectiveness.  

Examples of our recent action plan progress include:

Curriculum Expectations:

  • We boast award-winning elementary schools, including a four-time winner of the Wisconsin Promise School of Recognition.
  • We offer comprehensive K12 programs in art, music, physical education, gifted & talented, English as a Second Language, special education, and service learning.
  • We personalize student experiences through academies, alternative education, certificate programs, and 1:1 technology devices.
  • Students are able to earn college credit or advanced standing through Advanced Placement and more than 20 courses articulated with MATC.
  • Milwaukee Magazine (April 2012) ranked South Milwaukee School District as the #1 “After-School All Star” and South Milwaukee High School as #2 “OVERPERFORMING High School.”
  • South Milwaukee High School seniors earned over $2.9 million in scholarships in 2015.

Character Education:

  • The “South Milwaukee Way” emphasizes respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and perseverance.
  • Our district is a co-sponsor of the Wisconsin Character Education Conference, and our schools have been awarded numerous Wisconsin Promising Practices awards for their emphasis on Character Education.
  • In 2015, South Milwaukee was designated as a State School of Character.

                                                        Community Engagement:

  • The district's “Job-Ready” Certification Program is endorsed by the South Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce.
  • Our high school has been accredited by North Central Association since 1909; our district is the first public school disrict in Southeastern Wisconsin to be fully accredited by AdvancED/North Central Association.
  • Schools benefit from active parent involvement at every level.

                                                         Capital Effectiveness:

  • We are committed to attracting, supporting, retaining quality staff. Professional development and training programs enhance continuous learning.
  • We invest in our infrastructure based on a study of the Pre K–8th grade buildings. The District is effectively and efficiently providing a 21st century environment for instruction.

We are proud of our accomplishments and we invite you to visit the following sites to discover why South Milwaukee is a great place for children and families to learn and grow.

A Message from Dr. Olson, Superintendent

A Message from Thomas Zepecki, Former Mayor of South Milwaukee

A Message from Ante Udovicic, Activities, Athletics & Recreation Coordinator

The Day in the Life of a South Milwaukee High School Student

The SM Story – Who We Are

Please feel free to any send comments, questions, and suggestions to  I look forward to hearing from you!


Rita M. Olson, Ph.D.

Superintendent - Dr. Rita M. Olson  -  Rita M. Olson has been the Superintendent for the School District of South Milwaukee since 2010. She began her career with the South Milwaukee School District in 1979. Over the years, she has served as a German and French teacher, Title 1 reading and interim kindergarten teacher, foreign language coordinator, District K-12 Curriculum Coordinator, Elementary Principal, and Director of Instruction. Dr. Olson received both a B.S. in German and French and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction/Reading from UW-Milwaukee. Additionally, she earned an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Marian University and a Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University.