In August 2018, when Madison School District “launched” the concept of Black Excellence we did not define Black Excellence. We did not define it by design, because we knew that Black Excellence may mean something different  to everyone, particularly Black people. However, we do hold a fundamental belief that Black Excellence already exists. For some it may be a process of discovery to uncover and nurture it and for others it only needs to be affirmed and supported. 

The mindset for Black excellence is critical, because if you do not believe that each child holds within them the ability, the desire and the gifts that demonstrate excellence, then it will be difficult to ever achieve excellence. We do not believe that excellence only shows up in academic metrics. We believe it lives by seeing the fullness of our students – in the very characteristics and competencies we want all of our graduates to possess: A growth mindset, interpersonal skills, confidence, cultural competence, community connection, wellness, creativity and self-knowledge.

We issued the following statements:


  • We believe in the brilliance, creativity and bright futures of Black youth throughout Madison.
  • We believe in the same brilliance, creativity and important contributions of our Black staff.
  • We value and believe in the beauty, persistence of our families raising Black children.

Our core values to guide these beliefs and mindset

  • Excellence
  • Belonging
  • Racial Equity and Social Justice
  • Voice
  • Focus
  • Creativity

Our Approach to Black Excellence - Our Ways of Working

The Madison School District knows that we cannot create solutions for our Black students in isolation. We must include and honor those who hold expertise and lived experiences to share our success. Our approach and strategies will be informed through partnership with our Black students, families, community partners and staff who will help us achieve Black Excellence across our District. We will bring together a committed group of individuals to address racial equity for Black children, youth and families to have a dramatically different experience than institutions are traditionally designed to provide. At this time, we call this the Black Excellence Coalition. 

  • We will intentionally create space for families, students and community partners to inform and define the strategies we should execute.
  • We will focus on ways to support the social-emotional, academic and healthy identity development for our Black students.
  • We will commit to creating new narratives about our Black youth and highlight that excellence that already exists.
  • We will commit to anti-racist, culturally responsive teaching and leading for equity so that Black excellence becomes a reality in our District.