Reuben and Mildred Harpole, longtime Milwaukee community activists and educational leaders, were honored with the first Distinguished Educator of the Year award at Celebrate Teachers & Teaching Oct. 8 at Anodyne Coffee Roasting.
Reuben K. Harpole, Jr. is a UWM School of Education alumnus who worked at the School of Continuing Education for 31 years and was a senior outreach specialist at the school’s Center for Urban Community when he left UWM in 1997. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his work in improving Milwaukee communities.
In 1998, the Harpoles established a scholarship to encourage African Americans, particularly males, to go into teaching. In fall 2009, friends and family raised more than $22,000 for Reuben Harpole’s 75th birthday to add to the Reuben K. Harpole, Jr. Scholarship fund.
The Harpoles, who have been married for more than 50 years, have had founding roles or involvement in numerous organizations in Milwaukee neighborhoods, including: launching 50 community centers; Milwaukee Community School and Harambee Revitalization, Inc.; Central City Teacher Community Project; MPS Homework First Program; Milwaukee 100 Black Men; and Children’s Performing Arts group, which eventually became the Ko-Thi Dance Company.
In his nomination, education dean Alan Shoho wrote: “Mildred and Reuben Harpole have dedicated themselves to the advancement of teaching and learning for over half a century. They have directly contributed to closing the achievement gap in our classrooms and have been the driver in improving teaching and learning through their efforts.”
Celebrate Teachers & Teaching is a collaborative effort of the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee (EDGM) to honor area teachers. The leaders of nine area institutions of higher education, including UWM, are involved. In addition to the Harpoles, four area teachers were honored for their efforts in promoting literacy.
Next year’s event is set for Oct. 13 with a focus on honoring teachers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas. Nominations for K-12 educators and for the distinguished educator of the year are due Jan. 14, 2016. Go to the Celebrate Teachers & Teaching webpage for more information.
Home page photo by Patricia Kline