by Taki S. Raton
Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA) and Golda Meir School social worker Jerrell Braxton earned state recognition when he was named Wisconsin School Social Worker of the Year for 2011-2012 by the Wisconsin School Social Work Association (WSSWA).
He was honored September 29 at the Midwest School Social Work Conference in Indianapolis where he represented Wisconsin. His award presentation was Friday, November 11 at the Heidel House in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Braxton has been honored with numerous awards and accommodations to include Special Recognition by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors for 2011-2012, the Milwaukee Chapter Top Ladies of Distinction Celebrating Fathers & Mentors Award in 2007, the Milwaukee Common Council City Proclamation in 2003, and the Milwaukee Public Schools Excellence in Education Award in 1995.
His signature contribution to the arena of mentoring and to the positive development of young African American males is his Brothers of Kwanzaa (BOK) program at MHSA. The now 20th year consistent programming of BOK qualifies it as one of the longest running groups of its kind in the United States.
The major focus of BOK is to empower African American male participants to succeed academically, educationally and socially with the long range visioning of succeeding in life. This empowerment/support effort is designed to address issues and lend solutions that are presently fueling the deteriorating status of African American males in Milwaukee and throughout the country.
The group details five social indicators that have become challenging benchmarks to Black teens. These markers are Education, Health, Employment, Crime, and Life Expectancy.
BOK’s primary emphasis is the development of critical thinking skills and survival skill training. These tasks are cultivated by promoting students to critique community speakers, review documentaries, participate in group discussions and learn from field trips opportunities.
“We believe that these engagements and other activities such as the arts, jazz and poetry encourages students to cooperatively work together and think about issues that affect their lives today and in the future,” says Braxton.
He adds that the Brothers of Kwanzaa is a “self empowerment interactive program that promotes students to help each other gain interpersonal insight, increase motivation and improve academic performance.”
Hundreds of young men at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts have been serviced over these 20 years cite Braxton. He reveals that the program has a 99% graduation rate with 85% of these students continuing to higher education, training programs and city service positions.
Mr. Braxton has a deep appreciation for our students and has committed himself to bringing out the best in each young man he works with,” says Dena Radtke, Coordinator of School Social Work and School to Work Transition and Community Services for MPS.
For his work with BOK, he has received Special Recognition by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors for 2011-2012, the Brothers of Kwanzaa Leadership Award in 2007, the Brothers of Kwanzaa 15 Year Special Recognition Award in 2006 and was featured in the Milwaukee Magazine writing “First Person-Brothers Keeper” in 2007, and appeared as a guest feature on “Positively Milwaukee” in 1997.
He has been with Milwaukee Public Schools now for 23 years and has presented himself as a proud leadership model for MPS, for Milwaukee High School of the Arts and for our youth.
The Milwaukee community joins in this celebrative recognition of Braxton’s proud achievement.