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At this Harambee middle, college students discover ways to handle their psychological well being



Tiffany Glinsey describes her son, T.J., as a perfectionist. 

He works onerous at school, and he tries to get issues proper the primary time. For many dad and mom, this may be a dream come true. But there’s a draw back.

At his earlier college, when T.J., 8, didn’t get issues good the primary time, he would have “crying spells” and wouldn’t be capable to calm himself down. Glinsey mentioned she’d usually have to select him up for disrupting class. 

It received to the purpose that Glinsey started to really feel like she was a nasty mom. The college wasn’t giving her a lot details about how her son’s habits regardless of sending him to the principal’s workplace. Running quick on choices, she pulled T.J. out and appeared elsewhere. 

When she enrolled T.J. on the Malaika Early Learning Center, the distinction was evident. 

“They actually cared,” Glinsey mentioned. “They actually sat down with him and asked him what was wrong instead of just calling me to come pick him up.”

For educators at Malaika, instructing college students the best way to handle their habits and psychological well being is quite a bit like instructing them the best way to tie their footwear.

“When you first start, it’s hard. They don’t know how to do it, they trip on it, it’s frustrating … but as they keep going, then they’re tying their shoes like a pro,” mentioned Marica Tipton, well being and wellness specialist at Malaika Early Learning Center. “The earlier that you can teach anything, the more likely it is to stay with them and become part of their natural behavior.”

Malaika, which implies “angel” in Swahili, is positioned at 125 W. Auer St. within the Harambee neighborhood. It is an early studying middle that gives youngster care for youths below college age and training for these from pre-Ok to 3rd grade. It largely serves youngsters from low-income households across the space.

Eighty p.c of the college’s funding come from authorities contracts and charges from dad and mom, with the rest coming from donations from people, foundations and companies, in line with Malaika’s web site. The college makes use of a sliding-fee scale and works with dad and mom receiving Wisconsin Works, or W-2, advantages. 


Malaika is exclusive for offering providers to a wider vary of youngsters. Most youngster care providers and colleges solely provide providers till first grade. The additional few years give employees time to make significant connections and educate invaluable abilities, mentioned Tamara Johnson, principal and govt director of Malaika Early Learning Center. 

“Relationships matter,” Johnson mentioned. “I cannot stress that enough. We take care of kids at Malaika like they’re our own.”

The college’s web site says Malaika is licensed by Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to serve 70 youngsters at a time from the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years. 

David Blackmon, scholar help coordinator at Malaika, mentioned he works one-on-one with dad and mom to find out the kid’s wants. 

“When someone tells you your child needs something, sometimes we flip that into ‘something is wrong with my child,’” Blackmon mentioned. “It’s hard for us to accept that because we want to feel like we can handle everything our child needs, not understanding that some things we need to put in other people’s hands.”

The middle’s well being and wellness program has three tiers: Tier 1 is for your complete scholar physique. Teachers and employees assist educate youngsters the best way to handle their feelings with totally different strategies.

Tipton makes use of an acronym with the youngsters: STEP. 

To begin, you “Say the problem without blame,” then “Think of solutions,” then “Explore the consequences” and “Pick the best solution.” The train, which is accompanied by a track and dance, helps youngsters to know extra concerning the relationship between the reason for their issues and the way they’ll resolve them. 

In Tier 2, the employees watches out for behaviors that would turn out to be issues down the street and hold day by day logs. They work as a workforce to find out the very best choices for the kid.

“What I don’t want to do is suspend kids,” Blackmon mentioned. “We try to put things in place and exhaust all possibilities so that we can get that child the help they need so that they can be successful and have more days in school.”


In Tier 3, Malaika employees refer youngsters out for day therapy. This is normally to satisfy a necessity that the college can’t handle. 

Johnson mentioned that day-treatment providers for youths within the early-education age vary are “practically nonexistent,” as the middle has relied on only a few suppliers over the previous couple of years. 

By being proactive, she mentioned, the middle has lowered the variety of youngsters who want day therapy to just one or two a yr. But entry to those providers stays a bigger downside. 

When T.J. wanted additional assist, Malaika was in a position to join the household with Rogers Behavioral Health for an analysis. 

“I would have never known where to take my son to get help,” Glinsey mentioned. “Malaika is the most underrated school in the city of Milwaukee.” 

Johnson mentioned offering these providers has been top-of-the-line choices the college has made.

“When you get a scholar who starts with you and goes from throwing chairs every day to learning how to regulate his behavior, that’s a winning situation for everybody,” Johnson mentioned.




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