July 4, 2010

Former Racine teacher in running for $50,000 Pepsi grant

 Close on the heels of Mitchell Middle School teacher Kim Wendt's winning of $50,000 in the Pepsi Refresh challenge in April, to renovate her school's science classrooms, another teacher has a project in the competition. This time it's Pete Wilson, a former teacher at Racine Montessori School who is now teaching in Milwaukee. Wilson is the brother of Kathi Wilson, who created last year's Quilts on Barns project in Racine County. As of this moment, Wilson's ImaginAction program is in 220th place; the top 10 on July 31 will win funding.

Kathi Wilson sends us the following:
ImaginAction, a non-profit organization, founded by local teacher Peter Wilson, needs your votes. ImaginAction’s purpose is to create, guide and support innovative and alternative learning opportunities for youth.  It is dedicated to helping children improve their knowledge of the world, and by doing so, increase their achievement.

In July, ImaginAction’s Pacific Northwest Program is featured on the Pepsi Refresh Project under the headings of “national parks” and “imaginaction.”  Like Kim Wendt, the Mitchell Middle School science teacher who won a Pepsi Refresh Project grant, Wilson is in the running for $50,000 this month for his project.

The mission of the Pacific Northwest Program is to give urban students a chance to experience a national park, hoping that this opportunity to see a different part of the world may inspire them to reach higher goals for themselves.  The program includes four to eight weeks of instruction in Milwaukee on literacy, math, science, social studies and life skills based on a curriculum designed specifically around the Pacific Northwest.  The last week of the program involves flying students to Seattle and taking them on a 5- or 6-day tour of Olympic National Park.  The initial program is planned for summer 2011, in connection with several schools in the Milwaukee area.  After this initial program, Wilson hopes to expand the Pacific Northwest Program to other schools in southeast Wisconsin and develop programs for additional seasons of the year.

Olympic National Park was chosen because of its variety of learning opportunities: mountains, rainforest, Pacific coastline, Makah Indian Nation and the Coast Guard.  Connections have already been established with the Feiro Marine Life Center, the Olympic National Park Visitors Center, the Makah Cultural Center and Museum, and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. After students have completed a program, they will become part of a larger family of graduates that may become junior chaperones for future trips, thus providing role models for younger program participants.

Most recently, Wilson was the math teacher leader at Golda Meir School in downtown Milwaukee.  Before moving to Milwaukee, he was the upper elementary teacher at Racine Montessori School, where travel and trips were an important part of his class.  During his tenure at RMS, classes traveled and stayed overnight on the WWII submarine at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, studied Abraham Lincoln by traveling to the many sites in Springfield, IL, and studied the Pacific Northwest by traveling to Olympic National Park, near Seattle.

In addition to the Pepsi Refresh Project, ImaginAction’s funding will come from grants, private donations and its Disco/R & B fundraising dance/silent auction on Nov. 6 at the Kosciusko Community Center in Milwaukee. 
 Go here to vote for the “Pacific Northwest” project.