Congratulations to Keewatin Elementary! Read below, the story that appeared in last week’s Scenic Range NewsForum…

Keewatin ElementaryKeewatin Elementary School has been named as a Minnesota School of Excellence by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA). This honor was awarded to the school for its commitment to 21st century teaching and learning.

    The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century. The program is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education, as well as the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and was nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education, which identifies “the best ideas on education in the world…to expose them to our educators, teachers, administrators, and politicians.”

    MESPA endorses schools where principal, staff, students, and community — working as a team — demonstrate the desire to strengthen education by successfully undertaking the research-based Minnesota School of Excellence school improvement process. This includes a systematic school-wide self-study, development of a school improvement plan, and implementation of that plan. The entire Minnesota School of Excellence Program is aligned with six national standards: learning centered; diverse communities; 21st century learners; quality instruction; knowledge and data; and community engagement.

    “All schools have the opportunity to participate in the MESPA Minnesota School of Excellence Program, but not all schools take the challenge. It engages the entire school community – from students, to staff, to parents, to the broader community – in meaningful conversations about their school,” said Laura Pierce, Minnesota School of Excellence Program chair, and principal, Farmington Area Public Schools. “Utilizing the self-study process provides instructional leaders with the data, knowledge and tools to increase the capacity of collaborative data driven decision-making with an outcome of increased academic achievement.”

    “The SOE process has benefited our school by helping us examine our growth and accomplishments over the past couple of years,” said Principal Peter Hardy. “It has also steered us in the direction we needed to take. We used the data from the survey to target our strengths, as well as identify areas that need attention. In addition, the data identified which program changes have made the most impact, and which still needed to improve. In the end, we were able to establish and implement a plan to ensure further growth.”

    Keewatin’s commitment to the academic success of its students is evident in the positive changes made to ensure quality instruction. The changes have helped improve its Multiple Measurements Rating – a rating given to all schools in the state on an annual basis and measures school performance in the areas of proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates – from 6.09 to 99.94 percent in just two years, making Keewatin a Reward School.

    “The value of receiving the MN SOE endorsement is the recognition of the hard work and collaboration of our school community,” said Hardy. “Many new programs were implemented in the last couple of years, which took the dedication and support of the staff, parents, students, administration, and school board. It is wonderful to receive recognition for our efforts. It provides reassurance to our school community that we are on a continuing track of improving. It also builds our confidence and encourages us to keep growing and changing with the current trends in education.”