Nuestro Mundo Community School
Creativity and Imagination
By Hedi Rudd

Nuestro Mundo, or “Our World”, is Madison’s only dual-language immersion school and
after seven years in its new home, the former Meadowood School in Monona, it is
bursting at the seams.

“We have a lot of aspirations that are on hold, because there is nowhere else to do
more,” explained Nuestro Mundo Principal, Joshua Forehand.

Forehand started with Nuestro Mundo in 2005 as a teacher, after interviewing for the
position from a toll booth in Mexico City. Originally from Texas, it was his wife who had
Madison connections, which helped them in their decision to call Madison home.  After
teaching for six years, he took a position with the district, before becoming the Nuestro
Mundo Principal in 2013.

As Forehand talks about Nuestro Mundo, you can sense his deep commitment to the
school, the students and their families. He talks softly, but genuinely as he walks down
the hallway pointing out the grade levels in each of the classrooms of the K-5 school.
The classrooms are diverse, and it is obvious that learning is taking place and that the
students are engaged.

He shares that the school is up for a renewal of its five-year charter in 2019 and that is
a focus for the school and families now.

“There is a lot of momentum behind the charter renewal,” Forehand said. “There is no
reason to believe it won’t get renewed. We are in a much stronger place then we were
five years ago. We have had consistent growth and progress. This is important for us
and for families and of course to the School Board. We plan to just keep getting better at
what we are doing.”

The mission of Nuestro Mundo is to “lay a strong foundation of knowledge and skills
that allows our students to develop into young people with active and creative minds, a
sense of understanding and compassion for others, the courage to act on their beliefs,
and who are ready to meet the opportunities and challenges of a multilingual and
multicultural world.”
To achieve their mission, Nuestro Mundo relies on partnerships with the community. Two partners the school currently works with are the Latino Chamber of
Commerce and WEA Trust, two distinctly different entities that bring different resources to the table.

WEA Trust came out of the school’s relationship with The Foundation for Madison Public Schools. WEA Trust is in the Moorland Road area, which is where many
students live. The trust wanted to partner with a local school. Forehand describes the relationship as “Love at first sight.”

“We have employees of WEA Trust who come and read regularly with kids,” Forehand said. “We match them up with one classroom, so they get to know those kids,
so it’s the same adult every time working with the kids. Our third graders now have a tradition where they are pen pals with one department of WEA Trust. It stared
out with one section of 18 kids and now it’s all sections of third grade, so 53 kids. They get journals and write to each other throughout the year and then at the end
of the year they do something big together. One year they went to Henry Vilas Zoo and had a cookout and met their pen pals for the first time. It’s a great way to
integrate writing skills and English language development.”
explained. “That has been the center of conversations we have had lately. We are hoping to create a pipeline looking at Nuestro Mundo, Sennett Middle and
LaFollette High School using Adopt A School support. We would like to see The Junior Chamber program grow with the students as they move on through their
education.”

Another unique partnership is with Seeds of Peace. “They have a mission to join the fight against food scarcity. We have some families that are dealing with
unstable housing and food scarcity. So, our social worker hooks this organization up with the families,” described Forehand. “A group of people show up on Friday
afternoon and discreetly come and put bags of snacks and food in those children’s backpacks.”

Families are equally a part of the equation. They too have suggestions for programs and when they do, they find ways to get students to and from and help to make it
equitable for everyone to participate. One example of this is Destination Imagination, which is a Maker’s Space club, with chapters across the country. Locally, the
groups meet and then come together annually for a challenge. Last school year, the challenge was held at Edgewood and teams were given a box of material to
create something from their imagination.

As the school continues to grow, our world grows and it is promising to know that innovation and entrepreneurship have found a home to grow into and out of.
The employees at WEA Trust also hold school supply drives and raise money for a school
day snack program.

The partnership with the Latino Chamber provides opportunities for students to take field
trips to local Latino businesses. They too provide members who come to read to students,
providing support with Spanish speaking and providing more opportunities for students
and their families to engage with the larger Latino community. Marketing Membership
Strategist Eric Zuniga meets with the Puma Scholars program and shares strategies of
business, which lead to the creation of a Junior Chamber, and eventually leading to the
creation of “Fish Tank”, a play on the popular “Shark Tank” series.

In June of this year, the chamber sponsored the “Fish Tank” event, which it hopes to hold
annually. Five groups of 3-4 students, presented their pitches to three judges, with the
winners receiving $500.

“That is the type of thing we are aiming for to address the opportunity gap,” Forehand
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