The new school, located at 7171 W. Brown Deer Road, is Banner’s second partnership with MPS, though Banner Prep, an MPS alternative school serving at-risk students, is not a charter.
Theresa Yeldell, executive director at Banner, said the organization decided to open a charter so it could be more independent than a traditional MPS school. Yeldell, an educator for 43 years who ran schools in Boston, Alexandria and now Milwaukee, said a charter school offers the flexibility to give students ”the Banner experience.” It also fills a gap, since there are very few middle schools in MPS.
Yeldell said this is awkward for students. “They’re either big elementary kids or little high school kids.”
The school utilizes a framework developed by James P. Comer, a professor of child psychiatry at Yale and an authority on childhood development and education, to teach inner-city children. It’s based on six developmental pathways: social interactive, psycho-emotional, ethical, cognitive, linguistic and physical. The framework integrates child development and academic content.
Banner middle school has a capacity of 240 students and will have 12 teachers when fully staffed. Organizations partnering with the school include Teach for America, the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center and Make a Difference-Wisconsin. Yeldell said community partners are important to show students, most living in poor neighborhoods, that there is strength in their communities.
“We want our kids to understand that richness in life isn’t about money,” Yeldell added. “It’s about the family and the community that they’re part of.”