Margaret Todd – 35th Annual Black Excellence Awards Honoree


Margaret Todd
Milwaukee Public Schools (Retired)

When Margaret Todd, first began teaching the computer specialty program at Washington High School in the early 1970’s, she partnered with JC Penney using the department store’s enormous mainframe computer into which data was fed on paper punch cards and then stored on large reel-to-reel tapes. By the time she retired in 2000, the internet had become an everyday tool of business and many households. Its importance in daily life has only increased since its inception.

After graduating from North Division High School in 1963, Margaret earned a bachelor of science degree in business education in 1967 from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. She later earned a master of education degree from Nation Louis University in Evanston, Illinois. She returned to Milwaukee and accepted a position teaching business education classes at Washington High School. At the time of her retirement in 2000, she was the implementer of the Computer Data Processing Career Specialty Program. She also taught beginning computer courses in the evening for adults in the MPS Recreation Program and for Carter Development Center.

Margaret was not content to rest on her laurels after retirement. She continued to expand her knowledge about computer technology.

After retiring, Margaret continued to teach for Concordia University Wisconsin—Sherman Park Site for 10 years. She was a teacher assessor for the Milwaukee Teacher Education Center; she taught third and fifth grade at Hickman Academy, and taught third grade at Johnson Christian Academy. Margaret ended her career by teaching computer courses for 5 years at the Milwaukee Urban League.

During the classes at the Milwaukee Urban League, Margaret worked with a number of students who had suffered significant trauma in their life. Others lacked confidence that they possessed the talent to become successful preparing a resume or learning how to prepare a budget using a spreadsheet.

In recent years she has shared her sharp intellect and deep computer experience in various ways for volunteer organizations to which she dedicates a significant amount of her weekly schedule.

“At church I use an account software program called Quick Books to generate reports and write checks,” she said. “I had a good basic understanding of computers, but before becoming the recording steward I had never worked with that software program and had to teach myself.”

For more than eight years Margaret has been a member of the North Division High School Alumni Association. She served as interim secretary for one year, and helped to establish the alumni office, ordered supplies, and created and updated the alumni database. She also assisted in providing databases for reunions, sending emails for yearly membership campaigns and for the yearly spring fling; provided labels for the quarterly mailing and mailed letters/membership cards. The organization has engaged in a number of activities to help foster school spirit. She also volunteered to tutor basketball players in the evening, and other students during the day. The alumni association continues to provide mentorship assistance to students. The alumni association also greets all students on the first day of school. The association would sometimes distribute school supplies.

“My generation has a love for North Division,” she said. “Back in the day you lived in the neighborhood where you went to school. We knew each other and played together as children. You have to nurture a sense of love for each other,” Margaret said. “Students today who are bused from long distances have challenges participating in after-school activities and that makes it hard for them to establish long-lasting and caring relationships.”

In order to encourage punctuality and better attendance the alumni association recently held a pizza party for all North Division High School students who achieved at least a 95 percent attendance rate. This is done periodically throughout the school year. Margaret will assist in organizing/ sponsoring “Family Friendly Fridays” to bring together staff, administrators, students, parents, and alumni in a relaxed atmosphere. The Friday night dinners will began in January.

“My hope for North Division is that we are able to ensure that future graduates are able to earn a living wage by using the skills developed here or that they are able to go on the college. We want graduates to become contributing, responsible citizens who are lifelong learners.”

For a number of years, Margaret served on the North Division High School Advisory Council. She enlisted her congregation of St. Matthew Christian Methodist Episcopal Church to adopt North Division for its “One Church One School Initiative”. The council helped to provide funding to create educational programs, including a partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College which enabled high school students to begin earning credit toward a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate; provided funding for the school band; funding for students to go on college tours; scholarship assistance, and assisted in organizing and distributing Christmas baskets.

In addition to her community service on behalf of North Division High School, Margaret has been an active member at St. Matthew C.M.E. Church. She has taught Sunday school, served as president and director of the board of Christian education, announcement clerk, and has served on many committees. She is now a member of the board of Christian education, finance committee, building committee, beautification committee, and the steward board. She is the recording steward and responsible for writing checks and preparing quarterly financial reports, finding another use for her recent mastery of accounting software. She is always willing to draw upon nearly six decades of experience teaching about and working with computers.

In addition to her community service at North Division High School and St. Matthew C.M.E. Church, Margaret is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has served as president, vice president, treasurer, and corresponding secretary for the Milwaukee Alumnae Chapter. She was honored with the Delta of the Year Award in 1988, Wisconsin Delta Great Teacher Award in 1990, and the Delta D.E.A.R. Award in 2011 for her sorority service. In many of her community service positions, Margaret has drawn on her computer skills developed as a teacher. She also has participated in other community service organizations including: Lane College Alumni & Associates, Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., National Council of Negro Women—Wisconsin Section, Metropolitan Milwaukee Alliance of Black School Educators, and African World Festival.

Margaret was born in Corinth, Mississippi, She and her family relocated to Chicago when she was one year old. The family settled in Milwaukee in 1955. She has two children: John and Michelle; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.