Welcome to Thoreau Elementary

A child-centered school

Ensuring that everyone feels they belong.

Thoreau is a wonderfully diverse learning community that provides inclusive schooling for all. The staff is energetic and provide a safe, supportive learning environment. We will be using flexible grouping and students may go to other classrooms for certain subjects. We’re committed to providing an excellent academic program within a culturally relevant curriculum where students are active participants in the learning process.

We have a diverse student population of 450 students with 22 home languages spoken by our families. Thoreau is a contemporary building tucked into a hillside of oak trees located on the west side of Madison.

Get in Touch


Thoreau Elementary
3870 Nakoma Rd
Madison WI 53711

Office: (608) 204-6940
Thoreau Elementary School Website

What Makes Thoreau Unique

  • We take a multilingual approach to learn world languages by using each of the languages to create project based learning. This helps us learn about each other’s culture and language, which helps us understand about our wonderful differences.
  • Students spend 120 minutes each day in a literacy block using the workshop model as their temple. Infused into this literacy learning is the study of academic language in order for students to learn what words mean to make sense of their reading.
  • Scholar Circles of 10 students has a staff facilitator that stays with them their entire career at Thoreau and meet monthly.
  • We have the highest percentage of African American students who feel they belong at their school.
  • After school groups offer foreign language, drama, math, and problem-solving. Fifth-grade students have the opportunity to participate in the strings program.
  • K-3rd-grade classes are kept at 15-18 students.


Give a Gift

Interested in supporting our school? Give a gift to Thoreau Elementary School.

Are you an MMSD Alum? Connect with us and share your story.

Support Our School


Through the Foundation’s Adopt-a-School program, Madison’s public schools are “adopted” by a local business, organization, or government agency, forming mutually enriching partnerships.

Current Adopt-a-School Partners:

American Printing Company
Bodden Insurance Agency
Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
Westminster Presbyterian Church

Interested in adopting a School?

Why I Give

When I began as a principal in the district, a representative from the Foundation and I had the opportunity to meet. Her warm welcome coupled with the selfless mission of the organization inspired me to get involved initially. I was then able to see the meaningful contributions the Foundation makes to our schools each and every day, which inspired me to continue my support.


We support the Foundation because we believe in public education. We strongly believe that the public school system is a bedrock community institution that provides opportunity for all children. Through the Foundation’s financial support, many innovative projects that enhance the educational experience of Madison children have begun and been sustained over the years.


As a strong believer in the public school system, I’m convinced that a strong preK-12 program is the way to ensure equitable opportunity for all. The Foundation’s enthusiastic attitude supports promising educational practices and exemplifies philanthropic leadership. It’s a phenomenal ally and advocate of Madison’s schools, and as a high-caliber, well-managed organization, it is richly deserving of our support.