New principal hopes Trowbridge will be rediscovered

School to focus on ecosystems and Great Lakes

Aug. 16, 2007

When Milwaukee Public Schools officials earlier this year were entertaining the idea of closing Trowbridge School of Discovery and Technology, many Bay View parents shied away from enrolling their children at the school for the 2007-08 academic year.

Now Thomas Matthews, the school's new principal, is working to convince families to rediscover Trowbridge, 1943 E. Trowbridge St., and help make it thrive.

"My goal with this school is to create an attractive, viable choice for parents of the neighborhood - and anyone else citywide - where we can pay close attention to your child," Matthews said.

With a current enrollment of 188 students in a full-day program that includes 4-year-old kindergarten through eighth grade, Trowbridge class sizes are likely to be small this year.

Exploring ecosystems

Matthews is working with a team of parents, current and former Milwaukee School Board members, teachers and residents to revitalize the school's curriculum. He said the plan is to build an integrated curriculum around environmental studies, with a specific focus on freshwater ecosystems and the Great Lakes.

"We're the closest Milwaukee public school to Lake Michigan, and there's so much interest right now about Lake Michigan and the waterways close by, like the Kinnickinnic River," he said.

With the U.S. Coast Guard, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Urban Ecology Center, University of Wisconsin and Great Lakes WATER Institute nearby, Matthews is hoping to tap environmental and educational resources in the area for the benefit of Trowbridge students.

"I am just energized by the positive attitudes of teachers, parents and the community," Matthews said.

Art emphasis, too

He is also energized by the prospect of building the school's arts program, despite budget woes in recent years that have been whittling away at arts instruction at many elementary and middle schools.

"I believe all schools deserve strong arts programs," Matthews said.

He is counting on the community to support that idea. Matthews said he will be reaching out to local arts organizations to help provide opportunities for Trowbridge students to explore the visual arts, theater, vocal and instrumental music, and dance.

Matthews comes to Trowbridge after 14 years at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts, 800 W. Walnut St., where he started as a social studies teacher, was appointed assistant principal and then became the school's principal.

Prior to his stint at Roosevelt, Matthews taught fourth grade at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and English at the Lincoln Center for the Arts in Milwaukee.

"After 14 years at Roosevelt, I was ready for a new challenge," he said.

He said one of the main attractions of Trowbridge, built in 1894, is the sense of history that infuses the building. Matthews is "really happy about the physical light" that streams through the school's windows, "which has a positive impact on student learning," he said.

A Milwaukee native

Matthews lives with his wife, Tracy, a teacher at Richards Elementary in Whitefish Bay, and their 4-year-old son, James, a student at Fernwood Montessori School.

For fun, Matthews spends time babying his 1973 Karmann Ghia and 1963 Thunderbird convertibles. He also counts 1978 and 1979 Vespa motorbikes in his collection of vintage wheels.

On Sunday mornings, he sings with the St. Francis of Assisi gospel choir in a traditional Catholic church on 4th and Brown streets.

Matthews grew up in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood and graduated from Bay View High School in 1981. He decided to attend Bay View High School because of its arts-centered curriculum.

Nan Bialek can be reached at or (262) 446-6632.


For information on enrolling in Milwaukee Public Schools, call (414) 475-8448 or go to the district's Web site at

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.

Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» Wisconsin DOT: South 27th Street is open for business during holiday season 04:14 PM

» Meijer to provide food for Oak Creek's annual 'Evening of Blessings' 01:46 PM

» Greendale School Board Academy to be held for prospective spring election candidates 10:48 AM

» Franklin girls basketball team has talent, looks for depth 10:17 AM

» Oak Creek pulls away late to beat Brookfield Central, 59-46 11/21

» Oak Creek 8th graders 'view the world' as journalists in writing unit, 4 essays to be posted online 11/19

» Updated state championship game rankings of area prep football teams and players 11/19

» Franklin's $37 million budget has no tax change 11/18

» Rawson Avenue closure beginning Nov. 18 11/18

» Cudahy man found dead near hunting tree stand in Adams County 11/18

» Greendale trustees raise tax levy 1 percent, bump up budget by 45 percent to construct fire station 11/18

» Coming off good season, will Oak Creek football team dare to be great? 11/17

» Nine Oak Creek athletes sign letters of intent 11/17

» Franklin, Oak Creek swimmers finish well at state 11/17

» Hales Corners Chamber of Commerce to host social on Nov. 24 11/17

» Oak Creek Culver's to host annual Kids2Kids Toy Drive 11/16

» Hales Corners 2016 proposed budget sees 'nominal increase' 11/16

» Legacy Spa & Salon to host networking event on Nov. 7 in Hales Corners 11/16

» Greendale's first fire engine, which entered service in 1938, returns home 11/16

» Videos: Arrowhead stuns Franklin in epic football finish 11/14

» Resident invited to special Packers event after solving Associated Bank's 'turf search' in Oak Creek 11/13

» Franklin massage spa suspected of prostitution activities; owner charged Updated:  11/13

» Homeless sex offender may be in Hales Corners area 11/13

» Missing Franklin woman found, reunited with family 11/13

» Franklin woman missing since Wednesday, Nov. 11 11/13

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss


Local Business Directory




Most Popular