Wingra School, an independent, progressive school serving children ages five to fourteen in Madison, is hosting an evening of fun and celebration titled “50 Towards the Future: The Wingra Next50 Gala” at The Sylvee on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. The evening will include inspiring stories of hope and impact, food tastings presented by some of the area’s best dining establishments, live music from Kinfolk, and dancing.
“So this is kind of Wingra’s introduction to the greater Madison community,” Wingra Head of School Torsie Judkins tells Madison365. “Wingra has been around for 52 years and I’m blown away by how many folks don’t know about Wingra and what we teach and what we’re trying to accomplish as a school. One of the important things we’ve done is we’ve moved to this equitable tuition model that supports each family who applies to Wingra and is accepted.
“So, families are paying anything from our full tuition cost down to a very minimum, depending on their personal financial situation. We want to be able to break down barriers for students who want to choose a progressive, independent school as an option for them as a family.”
This type of model, he adds, “doesn’t magically happen.”
“We want to make sure folks in the community know who we are, and the work we’re trying to do around the tuition model as well as some social justice work we want to do in the area as we support progressive education,” Judkins says.
Wingra School’s “50 Towards the Future: The Wingra Next50 Gala” on Thursday night will also include a live and silent auction that will allow guests to take home one-of-a-kind items and experiences.
Judkins, who started his position at Wingra School on July 1, has a long history working in private schools around the country including in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York City. Most recently, he was the director of enrollment management at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I came to Wingra from the East Coast because I believe in everything they are trying to do here. This is my 25th year in private schools, and no other school in the country is really doing what Wingra’s trying to do,” he says. “So I was excited to come to Madison and do this work … but in order to do the work, we have to do some fundraising.
“We’ve had some folks who supported us for many, many years who have a relationship with Wingra, but we felt like we should open it up to the greater community and let other folks know who we are and what we’re trying to do.”
Learning at Wingra is an “active, multi-sensory engagement between an individual and the world, a mutual contact, which empowers the learner and reveals the rich meaningfulness of everything around,” according to Wingra’s website. Wingra focuses on experiential learning and invites students to develop knowledge, skills, understandings, and values from direct experiences with the world.
What does Judkins like most about working at Wingra School?
“My first love is the kids. I love the great joy that our students have in just being a kid,” he says. “We have a couple of people sick today, for instance, so I was outside doing early care and seeing seventh and eighth graders who want to get on a swing before school starts or to toss the ball around …. those are the things I love to see. Those are the things that bring me joy … seeing our kids smile and learn and the teaching and learning that happens here.
“And then just doing the work as a Black man working in independent school communities for close to 30 years… to be able to help kids, especially students of color, navigate these spaces and have the tools that they need to be successful. Those are things that get me excited about about this job.”
Judkins says he’s excited about the large and diverse guest list he has coming to the 50 Towards the Future celebration on Thursday.
“We’re excited to be having this event at the Sylvee … we have a great relationship with the Frank family, who own many venues like the Sylvee, and they made it possible to have the event at this space,” he says. “And I’m really excited about Thursday night’s event. We hope to see a great attendance but we want people to know that they can contribute or bid on silent auction items even if they can’t make it. We have pledge cards available on our website. There are many ways to get involved and we appreciate the community’s support.
“We’re just excited to have a fun night and to let all of these people know about all of the wonderful things going on at Wingra,” he adds.
For more information about Wingra School’s 50 Towards The Future celebration and to get your tickets, click here.