LHCS is Named School of Excellence!
Monday, September 9, 2013 6:40 AM


Lake Harriet School has earned the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Associations "School of Excellence Award".
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process identifying dynamic schools of the 21st Century.
This past year Merry Tilleson spear-headed the rigorous application process for this prestigious award.  She wanted the world to know what we already know: LHCS is a School of Excellence.  Because this program evaluates six national standards for successful schools --leadership, vision, student learning, the culture of adult learning, data and decision-making and community engagement-- she surveyed parents, administration and staff to identify the things LHCS does well and the things we are still working to perfect.  She poured through the data.  She documented more than 20 pages of information about our school.  This was a time-consuming and rewarding process.   Thanks Merry!  Your leadership is inspiring!
We should be proud of our school.  Of only twelve schools to receive the Minnesota School of Excellence award this year, LHCS serves the most students and is the only K-8.  We have hard-working teachers, administrators, students, parents and community.  And because the evaluation covers the past, present and future processes, LHCS will remain a School of Excellence for seven years.
We will celebrate this honor!  LHCS has made the news (see article to the right).  We will have a school-wide party in the spring.  We will receive banners to hang in the buildings so that all visitors know what we already know:  LHCS is a School of Excellence

The news release is below

Lake Harriet Community School Validated as 2013-2014 Minnesota School of Excellence
(St. Paul, MN -- August 23, 2013) - Lake Harriet Community School, Minneapolis Public Schools, is validated as a 2013-2014 Minnesota School of Excellence.
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century. Established by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association (MESPA), 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 whose 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, Community Engagement.
"Through the MN School of Excellence program, grounded in national research on high performing schools, MESPA has created the premier opportunity in the state for validating greatness in a school community," said Jon Millerhagen, MESPA executive director. "This school improvement program examines the entire school community, as opposed to making decisions based solely on students' assessment data."
"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 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."
Lake Harriet Community School, in Minneapolis Public Schools, is a Kindergarten - 8th grade program, with two campuses. The lower campus is home to Kindergarten - 2nd graders and the upper campus is home to 3rd - 8th graders. The culture is based on years of high academic achievement, an active parent community with high numbers of volunteers, and strong parent involvement and support of the neighborhood community. The school is led by: Merry Tilleson, Assistant Principal; Mary Rynchek, Principal, Upper Campus (retired); Jan Parrish, Principal, Lower Campus.
"The mission of Lake Harriet Community School is to challenge students to reach their full potential as knowledgeable, skilled, literate, compassionate, and confident global citizens by inspiring a love of learning, embracing diversity, and cultivating creativity, critical thinking and complex problem solving in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)," said Tilleson. "Lake Harriet strives to educate the whole child and provides opportunities for each child to stretch their strengths."
Lake Harriet Community School has established a partnership with an area of north Minneapolis called 'Expanded Choice Program'. Thereby, families from socio-economic backgrounds different than that of Lake Harriet can select to come to the school versus their neighborhood school. Northside families that select Lake Harriet for their children have transportation provided by the Minneapolis Public Schools. They are guaranteed a seat in the school through 8th grade as long as they remain in the program. The Expanded Choice Program provides a family liaison coordinator and transportation to enable children access to after-school activities and parents' access to school performances, PTA, Site Council and conferences with teachers.
The school honors social skill development of students through the monthly 'Lake Harriet Heroes Program.' This program recognizes several students across the school who are Helpful, Engaged in learning, Responsible and respectful, and an Obvious role model. These students are students who are positive contributors to the school community. A Lake Harriet Hero could be a student who did something amazing, or something simple, or everyday does something special. Another program, 'Second Step,' teaches specific skills that strengthen students' ability to learn, have empathy, manage emotions, and solve problems.
Lake Harriet Community School has a large population of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) children and children from families of same sex parents. To ensure an environment where all children and families are respected, Lake Harriet has a strong anti-bully program and several diversity-focused initiatives. For instances, The Families All Matter Book Project uses high-quality children's literature to address topics such as race, socioeconomics, adoption, immigration, and gay and lesbian families.
"The MN School of Excellence validation speaks to our focus on educating global citizens," said Tilleson. "This is a testament to the commitment of our parents, teachers, and volunteers."   
Twelve schools achieved recognition as 2013-2014 Minnesota Schools of Excellence:
Glendale Elementary School, Savage (Prior Lake-Savage Public Schools);
Kasson-Mantorville Elementary School, Kasson (Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools);
Lake Harriet Community School, Minneapolis (Minneapolis Public Schools);
Lake Nokomis Community School, Wenonah Campus, Minneapolis (Minneapolis Public Schools);
Maple Lake Elementary School, Maple Lake (Maple Lake School District);
North Intermediate School, St. Peter (St. Peter Public Schools);
Oak Crest Elementary School, Belle Plaine (Belle Plaine Public Schools);
Roosevelt Elementary School, Detroit Lakes (Detroit Lakes Public Schools);
Rossman Elementary School, Detroit Lakes (Detroit Lakes Public Schools);
Twin Lakes Elementary School, Elk River (Elk River Area Schools);
Waseca Central Intermediate School, Waseca (Waseca Public Schools); and
Winsted Elementary School, Winsted (Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Public Schools).
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Minnesota School of Excellence Program Mission and History
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century.
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program was established in 1986, combining the findings of current research on effective schooling with the practical on-site experience of working principals and education staff. It offers a comprehensive school improvement process that results in student learning growth. This school improvement process focuses on six national standards and involves a systematic self-study, development of a school improvement plan, and implementation of the plan based on demonstrated results. Since the program's inception, 173 schools have earned Minnesota School of Excellence validation. The validation remains effective for seven years.
The Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association is dedicated to promoting and improving education for children and youth, strengthening the role as educational leader for elementary and middle level principals, and collaborating with partners in education to assist in achieving these goals.
MESPA is the professional association of Minnesota's elementary and middle level principals. With the vision to "be the premiere resource for preparing today's principals for tomorrow and a strong leading voice for public education" and a statewide membership over 950 principals, MESPA has represented Minnesota's principals since 1950. MESPA is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and its 29,500 members nationwide.