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Thoreau Elementary School is a child-centered school where staff, parents, students, and community members work together to create a learning environment for all students and provide rigorous academic challenges based on thorough and continuous assessments of all students.

Thoreau Elementary School seeks active family and community partnerships that enhance a secure and familiar small school atmosphere.


Thoreau Elementary School is a contemporary building tucked into a hillside of oak trees located on the west side of Madison.

Class Size

We have about 450 students. We are planning for 24 classrooms. The SAGE (Student Achievement Guarantee in Education) grant from the state will keep kindergarten through third grade classes at 15-18 students. 

Thoreau staff will continue in collegial teams.  Regular education, special education, and English Language Learner staff work together to create stronger instructional teams in an effort to better meet the needs of our students and to increase student achievement.

Grade level teachers will have literacy blocks at the same time in order for them to work in collegial teams.  This schedule design allows for teaming which will assist with the need to provide instructional differentiation for all of our students.  Our Instructional Resource Teacher for literacy will coach teachers in literacy.  Our Intervention Teacher will work with students in grades K-2 that do not meet grade level benchmarks in reading. We also have an Instructional Resource Teacher for math.  This teacher will provide interventions for students in mathematics and will also provide math instruction to each classroom.

Neighborhood Bus Service

Pick up for students begins at 7:50 a.m. For more information, contact the school office at 204-6940 or the transportation office at 663-5288.

Hot Lunch Program

Daily hot lunches are available for purchase, as well as a breakfast program served before school each day. Monthly menus are sent home with the oldest sibling at Thoreau.  Free/reduced lunch application forms are available. Students have the option of bringing their lunch and purchasing milk.

After School Care

On site before and after school care for grades K-5 is available. Call After School at 276-9782 for more information.


Academic Programming


Thoreau students participate in many forms of assessment during their elementary career. Testing occurs in the areas of reading, writing and math and the results are used by the teachers to guide their daily instruction. Test results also assist us in setting school improvement goals which are designed to increase student success in the areas of learning, engagement and relationships.


Computers and iPads are used to support and extend learning across the curriculum. Thoreau has a fully equipped and networked computer lab.

Talented And Gifted (TAG) Program

The goal of Talented and Gifted (TAG) programming is to make certain K-12 students consistently have learning opportunities that are challenging, systematic and continuous based on learning profile, readiness and student interest.

Student learning experiences include a broad range of opportunities that pushes a student to their next level of challenge and allows them to develop their talents. TAG programming may occur in the classroom, or in other settings. TAG programming is determined by ongoing evaluation and assessment of individual student needs. Each school has TAG resource support for ongoing consultation.

Related Arts

Teacher specialists in art, music and physical education provide regular instruction. Fifth grade students also have the opportunity to participate in the strings program. After school groups offer foreign language, drama, math and problem solving.

Other Programs

Thoreau offers kindergarten, Reading Recovery, Special Education services, and English as a Second Language (ESL) programming. Support services are provided by the occupational/physical therapists, psychologist, nurse, social worker, speech/language clinician and instructional resource teacher.


School Climate

Safety Is Always A Priority

The playground has adult supervision 15 minutes before school and during all recesses. School safety patrols and city crossing guards assist children at busy intersections. Students who live more than 1.5 miles from school are provided free transportation on school buses. A nurse or nurse's assistant is on site.

Thoreau has a school-wide behavior plan that provides all students with opportunities to increase their understanding of appropriate social interaction. The District-wide code of conduct is followed consistently and fairly.

Positive Behavior Systems

Our school will work to help all of our students stay "above the line" through specific programs such as Tico Tickets, engaging learning experiences, and the relationships we foster each day.  Thoreau has three school rules that are addressed daily with the children.  They are as follows:

  • Be Safe
  • Be Responsible
  • Be Respectful

When students "fall below the line", staff and principal will work together with the student to address issues through consequences and a "fix-it" plan.  Depending on the severity, frequency, and other factors, parent/guardians may be contacted.  When students fall to "bottom line", the principal will determine consequences and "fix-it" plans in light of the district's Code of Conduct.  At this level of behavior, parent/guardians will be contacted.

School-wide Behavioral Expectations for Students

Thoreau aims to be a positive place where students, staff and parents feel good about the school and where important learning occurs.  We believe that all students must be physically and emotionally safe if this learning is to occur.  We also believe that students can be responsible for being learners and contributing members in our school community.  Finally, we believe that staff, with the support of parents/guardians, should respond to misbehaviors in a way which is aimed at developing a student's ability to self-discipline rather than aimed at simply punishing the student.

Each Thoreau teacher has in place a classroom accountability system where students have participated in the establishment of standards for reasonable behavior in the classroom.  Those classroom standards are clearly spelled out for all students, along with a hierarchy of consequences should any student interrupt, distract, or disrupt the learning environment.  In most instances, that classroom system is sufficient for helping a student who is experiencing emotional difficulties get back on task.  Students feel safe, secure, and included in a system that is fair to all.

Part of the school-wide system will be the positive recognitions, celebrations, and reinforcements for student behaviors that contribute to a sense of community.  Tico tickets are given to students who are behaving appropriately.  The other part of the system is the consistent response to misbehaviors when they occur.  The team has developed a system to categorize misbehaviors and the kinds of responses for each level.  By adopting this system and putting it into practice, Thoreau staff hopes to communicate clear boundaries for behaviors and work in a coordinated way to help students get back on track as soon as possible.  An Office Referral Form has been adopted.  This form is used by Thoreau staff when a child's behavior becomes difficult for a teacher to manage in the classroom and other Thoreau staff have been called to assist.  The form is routinely mailed home to parents though parents are often called by the teacher as well.

A critical part of this response is the communication with the home and the home's support of the school's basic rules.  Together, the school and home can reinforce the common expectations for positive behavior.



Family Partnerships

The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is very active at Thoreau and meets every month on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The dates and times will be posted in the monthly newsletter and website. The PTO works to provide a link between home, school, and the district. It supports academic programming by planning special events and fund raisers, advocating for our children and soliciting volunteers.

You Are Always Welcome At Thoreau Elementary School!

Thoreau is a wonderfully diverse learning community that provides inclusive schooling for all. The staff is energetic, child-centered and provides a safe, supportive learning environment. Our staff will be using flexible grouping and students may go to other classrooms for certain subjects, while other students may come to your child's classroom.  We're committed to providing an excellent academic program within a culturally relevant curriculum. Students are active participants in the learning process.

School tours of our building are open to all. Please call the school office at (608) 204-6940 to schedule a time for your visit.

We encourage you to talk with parents of our students to learn more about our school. Please see the Principal/Parent information on this web site for current names and phone numbers.

For answers to any questions or to request materials such as curriculum standards, handbooks, lunch menus, newsletters, etc., call the office at 204-6940, or fax your request to 204-0519.