SHARP Literacy uses the power of art to inspire critical thinking skills, thereby helping children explore and retain key concepts in science, social studies and language arts.
While serving as a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum, SHARP Founder Marlene Doerr Kreilkamp was struck by the power of art to inspire student achievement. In 1996, Doerr Kreilkamp began developing an in-school, art-based literacy program with support from leading Milwaukee educators. Over the past 17 years, SHARP has served nearly 75,000 students and 400 educators from first through fifth grade in public, private, parochial, choice and charter schools, many in Milwaukee’s inner city and near south side neighborhoods.
Today, SHARP Literacy has a new Executive Director, Lynda Kohler, who brings her vision of incorporating the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) model into the curriculum. SHARP’s most recent implementation of this model included a cooperative effort with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) to build a honey bee robot that supports our tenth We Love to Learn book; an interactive "Weather Cube" is currently being developed for the 11 th book for 2 nd graders, based on Lake Michigan and weather. Many of these books, researched by SHARP and other students, are then used as classroom textbooks for years to come.
SHARP Literacy is based on The Eight Building Blocks model that includes a Teacher Summer Workshop (June), a Teacher In-Service (September), the distribution of grade level and curriculum-specific workbooks (October), first semesterin-school presentations (October - December), second semesterin-school presentations (January - February) docent-led, curriculum-specific tours of the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Haggerty Museum of Art (December - March), publication of a year-end Writing Challenge book featuring student writing and artwork (March-April), and a Family Achievement Recognition Event (FARE) to celebrate student achievement with parents and guardians (April-May).
The breakdown of our diverse student population is as follows: African-American students make up 54% of our current population of 5,332 students from 30 schools. Hispanic students comprise 31%. The remaining students represent the following ethnicities: 8% are Caucasian and 7% are Asian, American-Indian and other ethnicities. Almost 90% of SHARP students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The annual cost is $125 per student to participate in the SHARP program.