While many plans for 2021 were disrupted, its twists and turns offered many lessons.
As we begin 2022, community members reflect on the past to set intentions for the year ahead.
‘I don’t want to waste my time’
Jenny Lee is a stay-at-home chef and former newspaper journalist.
I don’t want to waste my time. That’s the lesson I’ve learned in 2021.
Not wasting time can mean checking off tasks on my list. Not wasting my time can mean watching the same TV show for the millionth time with my son because I’m happy when he’s happy. Not wasting my time can mean taking a moment to breathe and enjoy the peonies blooming in my yard. Not wasting my time can mean helping a candidate win.
My intention for 2022 is to frequently ask myself: “Am I happy? Am I content right now?” The goal is yes.
If I’m not content, the next questions are: “What can I do to change this? How can I help? How can I not waste my time?”
In case you missed it: OPINION: My parents didn’t teach me how to deal with racism. But I will teach my son.
Let’s ‘advocate for the educational spaces ALL our students are owed’
Angela Harris is an MPS teacher, MPS parent and chair of the Black Educators Caucus MKE.
The year 2021 represented a powerful opportunity in education to create more equitable education policies and practices. Additionally, we were afforded the opportunity to stray away from the “business as usual” that has perpetuated opportunity gaps in learning and disproportionality in discipline for our most marginalized BIPOC students.
We’ve seen teachers and students transition from virtual learning during a pandemic to in-person learning amidst a pandemic. Our new normal became classrooms with plastic dividers, students in masks and sanitizing stations in our hallways.
Educators are experiencing what some may call our most stressful year ever. This has included dealing with attacks on teaching historically accurate truth through anti-Critical Race Theory legislation and bills like AB/SB411 while simultaneously managing the social and emotional needs of both ourselves and our students amidst navigating teaching and learning in a pandemic.
Through it all, our BIPOC students have continued to demonstrate resilience, and educators have shown a steadfast dedication to demand the educational spaces our students deserve. We resisted attacks, pledged to teach the truth, kept our students safe during a pandemic and faced down the responsibility of restoring pandemic-related learning loss.
The federal and state government invested in education in unprecedented ways through ESSER funding, dollars specifically aimed at COVID relief in our educational landscape. This represents an opportunity for families, students and the greater community as a whole to expect continued accountability of one’s school district and members of the school board.
If we are to see change in our community, it must first begin in our classrooms and our collective voices can ensure that those changes begin to happen in 2022.
As I set my intentions for the new year, I reflect on the qualities I would like my scholars to possess as they leave my classroom, and on a broader scale, the qualities that they should possess when they graduate high school. If they are to be critical thinkers, imaginative, represented, joyful and embraced in their full humanity, I — and we — must continue to advocate for the educational spaces that allow for just that.
Approaching a new year means another opportunity for myself as an educator and members of the community to advocate for the educational spaces ALL our students are owed.
The most underused resource in education in Milwaukee has been our families and community. Let 2022 be the year we change that.
‘If we can’t enjoy our lives, then the bad guys have won’
After serving 14 years at the ACLU of Wisconsin, Emilio De Torre is the executive director of the Milwaukee Turners and also sits on the steering committee for the National Lawyers Guild of Milwaukee.
I’ve spent a long time mulling over the mess we’re leaving behind in 2021 and what I hope 2022 will bring us.
I’ve loved every bit of my “first” year as the executive director of the Milwaukee Turners. The people, the bridges we’re building, the vibrant ideas and smiles of folks working together for the sake of a better Milwaukee — it’s everything. Frankly, it’s hard to separate myself from the work we do here, and I don’t think I’d want to even if I could.
My fellow Turners and I have to recommit ourselves to the spirit of the Turner mission and see this hall flourish as a central hub for ALL Milwaukeeans. The potential gets my heart racing every day. I’m putting all my chips on seeing us continue to grow and be a progressive venue for mind and body. This includes the tavern and the incredible music and marriages that happen weekly in the Turner Ballroom. Where else can you lift weights, climb rocks, have a deep conversation about real equity, get a tasty meal and see a concert all under a 140-year-old roof?
On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed intentionally making time away from work to focus on my family and friends. As a workaholic, it’s hard to carve time from responsibilities, and, of course, it’s hard to operate under the looming thought of tasks undone. Finding a good balance to take care of my obligations, my family and friends, my health and my sanity is a high priority for 2022 — partially because I see how not managing this has led to misfortune in the lives of others, but also because the results are better all around.
Now I just need to do something about those pesky feelings of guilt.
So in hindsight, I want to continue building equity with other people committed to this shared dream; continue exercising with my friends and family, and yes, that includes Beat Saber on the Oculus; eat good food; and scroll through memes and cat videos in between justice transformation work.
Honestly, if we can’t enjoy our lives, then the bad guys have won, haven’t they?
In case you missed it: OPINION: Before we pick the next chief, let’s fix Milwaukee’s broken system of policing