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While most high school students equate four years with the traditional amount of time spent in high school, at Tenor High School, students are done in three. But there is more to the story – students spend their fourth year taking classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), getting a head start on a four- or two-year degree or certificate, or preparing for their careers after high school. That is the magic of Tenor High School, one of the powerful charter schools under the umbrella of Seeds of Health, Inc., Wisconsin’s only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin.
Seeds of Health Executive Director Marcia Spector explains the secret behind Tenor High School: “The mission of Tenor High School has always, and will always, remain the same: to prepare Milwaukee students for successful entry to post-secondary education and career opportunities through the dual completion of a high school diploma and a Milwaukee Area Technical College program certificate or technical diploma, and/or credits in a post-secondary degree program.”
3 + 1 = Success
Under Tenor’s unique 3 + 1 model, students graduate with dual certification – a high school diploma and a Milwaukee Area Technical College program certificate or technical diploma, and/or credits in a post-secondary degree program. Tenor students complete all their high school requirements in three years and attend MATC their fourth year.
Spector explains, “It’s the only 3 + 1 school in the state of Wisconsin. Nobody else has a program like this dual certification school. Tenor students take three years of high school classes and then go to MATC their 4th. Upon graduation, students can leave with their certificate in an area of trade, continue their studies at MATC and earn an associate degree, or take the credits earned at MATC to a 4-year university.” Whichever path students choose, they are on the road to be successful and workforce ready.
The Magic Behind the Tenor Model
According to Tenor High School Principal Tyson Tlachac, “Since Tenor’s beginning, more than 500 students have participated in the ‘3 +1′ program, experiencing their 4th year at MATC. That has led to students continuing at MATC to receive a certificate, associate degree, or entering a 4-year degree program.” The Class of 2021 is a testament to the fact that Tenor Students (even when faced with a global pandemic) have the resources available to help guide them to future success and are closely supported and advised by Tenor guidance counselors Carol Pook and Charmin McGlaston. Pook and McGlaston work closely with Tenor seniors to help them determine their post high school plans – whether continuing with their education or entering the workforce, and also help students find and secure scholarships and other means of financial support.
Numerous Tenor students receive scholarships and aid each year thanks to these efforts by Tenor counselors. The students also work hard, taking a variety of courses at MATC that can be applied towards a two or four-year degree. One student, Lizeth Galindo, has taken several MATC courses and earned a Nursing Assistant diploma. Lizeth will attend Alverno College with $20,000 a year in scholarships to help her. Another 2021 graduate, Liliana Negron, will continue her education funded by an impressive number of scholarships, totaling $224,000 per year.
Many Tenor students work hard both academically and in part-time jobs to achieve their dreams of attending college. Tenor senior Luis Landeros is an example of this as he has spent his weekends, days off and summers working construction with his dad and will be taking 35 college credits and a GPA of 3.829 to the University of Chicago this fall. Luis also attended a virtual pre-college summer program at Harvard in 2020 and will begin college with $72,229 worth of assistance. Like many Tenor students, success runs in Luis’ family – his older sister is a 2019 Tenor graduate studying dietetics at Mount Mary, while his younger brother is a Tenor student.
Nanya Khoungmuang has earned the Wisconsin Academic Excellence Award which gives her $2,250 per year to attend MATC, Nayele Garcia – Velazquez heads to MATC with a $1500 scholarship, and Aneila Capetillo earned an MATC General Scholarship. A generous scholarship offered by Dennis and Deborah Conta helps MATC bound students cover costs of their education. Other students like Giselle Perez-Villa plan to attend MATC to earn an associate degree in Graphic Design, while others like Diamond Roman will use MATC as a launching pad for further education- starting at MATC with a two-year degree and then transferring to MIAD.
The statistics on the graduating class of 2021 are impressive – 100% of the class had the opportunity to apply for admission to MATC and for the MATC Promise with support from the Tenor High School Staff. 89% of Class of 2021 applied for admission to MATC, and 91% of students applied to one or more colleges or universities. Finally, 100% of students who earned technical diplomas related to construction and manufacturing received information and introductions to programs to assist with applications for employment and apprenticeships! Tenor students are well supported upon graduation!
Regardless of the roads students take post-graduation, they all have something in common. Tenor High School students recognize the tremendous advantages the 3 + 1-year template provides and work hard to maximize their efforts during their Tenor career. Colleges and organizations recognize the hard work of students and often offer scholarships to these dedicated students. Similarly, employers sense that Tenor High School students are purpose-driven and dedicated and are happy to hire Tenor graduates.
Tenor High School & Its Expanding Program
While this magical high school may have been one of Milwaukee’s best-kept secrets, it’s not going to be a secret for long. This fall, Tenor will expand its program when it moves into the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel building at 918 N Vel Phillips Avenue. This move will allow Tenor to offer more students the chance to experience the magic of a 3+1 education while learning in the heart of Milwaukee’s downtown. The new location is just two blocks from MATC and adjacent to the proposed location for MATC dorms. The location near FISERV Forum and across the street from the Panthers Arena puts students in the heart of a thriving area where Tenor will be perfectly positioned to form partnerships with area businesses and introduce students to the possibilities that Milwaukee offers.
The new building will be equipped with traditional student safety protocols and will adhere to new COVID safety protocols and design considerations. The building’s layout allows for utilization of Alice Safety Protocols (for situations involving active shooters and other emergency situations) and works well with the new considerations of hallway traffic patterns and overall health safety brought on by COVID distancing measures.
Preparing Students for Success in Our Changing World
While many things have changed since the start of the pandemic, one thing hasn’t. Tenor High School students receive caring, individualized instruction and guidance throughout their educational experience. Tenor High School has been recognized locally and nationally over the past ten years as an outstanding school. In addition, Tenor is a certified Project Lead the Way school and participates in WIAA sports. Tenor students enjoy the small class sizes, dedicated teachers and administrators, and school-sponsored activities that allow students to build communication, leadership, teamwork and decision-making skills that open the door to future academic and personal success.
Principals Tyson Tlachac and Brenda Jeske Schmidt say it best, “Tenor prepares students with a rigorous curriculum in a safe and engaging environment. Small class sizes, dedicated teachers and administrators, and school-sponsored activities allow students to build communication, leadership, teamwork and decision-making skills, giving them many opportunities to experience both academic and personal success.”
Students who are eager to get a head start on their post high school education and careers should consider Tenor High School.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in three high schools with a total of four locations and a K4-8 elementary program. The individual and unique education programs at each school serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “home grown” answer to imaginative, collaborative and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.