Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Leah Noid has been a central figure for the community at Gwen T. Jackson School for the entirety of the 21st century. Between her five children who attended Jackson (including her youngest child, a current Jackson attendee), her years spent as a volunteer parent, and past six years as the Site Coordinator of the before- & after-school program at Jackson, Noid has worked hard to lift up the lives of Milwaukee children and families for the better part of 25 years.
Milwaukee Recreation connects with many local community organizations to serve students with affordable before- & after-school programs throughout the city. At Gwen T. Jackson School, Milwaukee Recreation partners with Neu-Life, a “north side non-profit providing year-round educational and recreational programs for youth” to operate the Jackson Safe Place. Every day, Noid distills the goals from Milwaukee Recreation and Neu-Life into an engaging and interactive program for the students during after-school hours.
Noid has a detailed background in child care, working for 4C for Children, serving as a longstanding member on Milwaukee Public Schools’ Head Start Policy Council, and leading workshops for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
“When I started having my children, I was interested in what takes place inside the classroom. I always wanted to [have] that home-school connection. What is it that keeps children engaged? What is it that keeps them excited about coming to school?”
While child care is a critical piece of the Gwen T. Jackson Safe Place, particularly for working parents and guardians, Noid also works hard to provide enriching curriculum and activities for the students all year long. “This is the important part of after-school programming. [The kids are] somewhere safe, they’re learning, and they’re with people that you know care about your children,” Noid said.
She will lead reading sessions for the older children, focusing on important historical and present-day topics and figures in Milwaukee. Two pieces of focus this spring were Caroline Quarrls Watkins, the first enslaved person to travel through the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin, and Johnsons Park, formerly a stop on the Underground Railroad. Each summer, Noid builds on the discussion with trips to Johnsons Park, located right next to MPS’ Brown Street Academy.
“I have watched Ms. Noid develop from a new site coordinator to an experienced and dedicated coordinator whom everyone respects and loves,” Helen Hamilton, Milwaukee Recreation Before- & After-School Programs supervisor, said.
Noid strives to create a culture of confidence for each student. Written on the chalkboard are her key vocabulary words, including “Gifts,” “Talents,” “Unique,” and “Extraordinary,” among others. Noid makes these words a central piece of each project at Jackson Safe Place. The students write these words out dozens of times, helping to practice penmanship and instill these ideas into their minds. Noid leads discussions about what these words mean to each of the students. The kids complete art projects that display how their own lives fit into these key words and phrases. Every activity is established upon the premise of supporting the children with skills and ideas that will carry them beyond the school walls.
“Ms. Leah is well known and respected in the Jackson and Neu-Life community,” Kahdedra Taylor, one of Noid’s co-workers at Jackson, said. “She is selfless and makes the children a priority when they are in her presence. She pushes our students to do the best they can while following up with their teachers and parents. She is a prime example of what a site coordinator should be.”
This summer, Jackson Safe Place is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. from June 21-July 29. Contact Noid at email@example.com to learn more about registering your child at Jackson this summer. Click here to see the full list of Milwaukee Recreation programs at Child Care Camps, Community Learning Centers, and Safe Places.
During one activity this spring at Jackson Safe Place, Noid asked her young people, “What are you really good at?” The students proudly rolled through a myriad of answers: reading, math, video games, art, basketball, fashion, science, etc. Eventually, the question was asked, “What is Ms. Leah good at?”
One student quickly chimed in: “Everything!”