Energetic, committed, and dedicated all describe Shawon LeFlore-Turnch. Presently a Milwaukee Public School System (MPS) fifth grade teacher, she has a classroom of 32 students at Neeskara Elementary School. She enjoys her career choice and her students declaring, “It takes a village. These are OUR children. I want them to excel and understand that education is the key. They must go to college just as my parents, James and Mandy LeFlore, stressed to my siblings and to me, when we were young children. My parents taught us public education as a ‘civil right’ fought for by my family – my aunts, uncles and grandmothers during the sixties in Mississippi.” Embracing her family’s aspirations, Shawon produced a classroom motto, perfect for her students to repeat nearly every evening: “Do your homework! Why? So we can be smart! Why? So we can go to COLLEGE.”
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Shawon attended Fifty-Third Street Elementary School, Wilbur Wright Middle School and graduated from Rufus King International Baccalaureate High School in 1992. After entering the University of Wisconsin-Madison, between her class and work schedules, she tutored students as a volunteer with the Madison Metropolitan School District and various community agencies such as Upward Bound. This led to her love of teaching and fueled the desire to become a teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, with a Spanish minor from UW -Madison in 1997. Immediately returning to Milwaukee, Shawon’s MPS teaching career began at Fairview Elementary School. Placement in Townsend Elementary School gave her a real sense of giving back and completion when she returned to her own “neighborhood” school. Her education continued as she earned her Masters of Arts Degree in Reading/Language Arts at Cardinal Stritch University in 2000.
A new connection made, she joined Cardinal Stritch University’s Urban Literacy Centers as an instructor assigned to different sites, such as Stritch’s City Center Campus, Townsend Street School, Hampton Elementary School, and Sherman Multicultural Arts School.
Shawon determinedly manages the circumstances surrounding her chosen profession driven by her passion to do her part in the education of her students. Her 17-year MPS tenure abounds with optimism and selflessness prompting her to say, “The rewards are great. I am so proud of my students when I see them out in our community. Some have gone on to attend college at Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I may forget some names, but I never forget those smiling, positive faces. They are always excited to tell me that they are in school. That’s all the reward I ever need as a teacher.”
Experience prompted this important wisdom from her, “Our city is full of the most intelligent and talented children. They may face tough situations and circumstances, but they have abilities. They can succeed when they have teachers who believe in their possibilities. New teachers must be better trained so they know what to honestly expect. Many times, teachers just have to show patience and compassion to reach these students. But we have to keep our expectations high.” Shawon and her husband reside on Milwaukee’s northwest side.