Acelero at South Milwaukee

Acelero at Blakewood
Meet South Milwaukee’s Youngest Pioneers – Blazing a Trail at Just 3 years old

You don’t expect a classroom full of 3-year-olds to be pioneers – but at Blakewood Elementary 17 students are just that. They’re the inaugural class in a partnership between the School District and Acelero Learning. 

Acelero Learning is a provider of the federal Head Start program which provides daily instruction and health activities for economically disadvantaged children, and social services for their parents.

“Some children have more resources than others to reach their full potential before they start kindergarten,”  said Christina Herrera, vice president of Wisconsin Acelero Learning Head Start.

For example, a family with a stay-at-home parent has more time to read to their child throughout the day or attend play groups or activities in the community during the week. Those activities help them on their way to becoming readers and build new social skills. Single-parent or working families might not have the same opportunities.

“We’re here to offer more resources so they can start kindergarten at the same level,” Herrera said.

For the Acelero families, it can mean more than education for their children. 

“We offer family services to partner with families on the goals they have for themselves and their family,” Herrera said. “Maybe a family is living with another family member, but they want to find their own housing. We’ll offer them help and resources to find that housing…We believe partnering with the whole family is essential in supporting children.” 

From the School District’s vantage point, it’s a chance to potentially meet their future students and provide a service to families in South Milwaukee. 

“It’s an opportunity to serve 3-year-olds in South Milwaukee,” Leo Eckman, director of Special Education and Pupil Services, said. Before Blakewood’s classroom opened in September, families had to go to sites in Cudahy or possibly farther for open seats. 

“By bringing it into the school, it gives an opportunity for them to start in the school district they might attend for their educational career,” Eckman said.

And, he added, it would help students he serves – those that require specialized education. “My interest in it is trying to find inclusive opportunities for students with special needs. Part of the vision for early childhood education is inclusive opportunities.”

Expanding access to early childhood education has a big impact on society in general. 

“If our country could offer universal 3-year-old kindergarten programming, the research says that would be the best thing we could do for public health,” Eckman said.  “While we’re not there yet as a country or a state we’re looking to capitalize on the opportunities we have.”