Roosevelt Elementary School in Detroit Lakes has been named a 2021-2022 Minnesota School of Excellence.

The recognition was announced by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association in a Sept. 1 press release. Roosevelt is one of only three schools in the state to receive the honor.

The release states that schools are recognized for their “commitment to modern teaching and learning,” and notes Roosevelt’s recent work to establish a trauma-informed approach to education -- one designed to provide a safe, caring, healthy and compassionate environment for the school community.

“The staff at Roosevelt work diligently every year to build relationships and a true sense of belonging with our students -- they know how powerful a supportive and understanding school environment can be,” says Roosevelt Principal Trisha Mariotti in the press release. “As part of the School of Excellence process, we began conversations around how we could identify bias and adjust accordingly to provide better support for our student population. Training and discussions around equity, diversity and cultural competency will be a priority (into the future).”

To be endorsed as a Minnesota School of Excellence, a school must partake in the Minnesota School of Excellence Program, a school improvement process that focuses on six standards related to leadership, vision, student learning, the culture of adult learning, data and decision-making, and community engagement. Participating schools must conduct self-studies and develop and implement a results-driven school improvement plan.

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Since the program’s inception in 1986, 218 schools have earned the School of Excellence validation. The distinction remains effective for seven years, after which schools may reapply.

Diana Hedstrom, the School of Excellence Committee Chairperson for Roosevelt, commented on the rigor of the process: “It takes hard work, time, and a continuous commitment to look at all six national standards, thoroughly assess where our strengths are and identify areas of growth.”

“It was additionally challenging to complete during the pandemic,” she added. “However, we chose the School of Excellence process because we felt it was important to finish what we started in the 2019-20 school year. Our building, led by our Site Team, wanted to continue to make improvements that aligned with student’s needs, improve our parent and community engagement and focus on a clear vision for our future.”

A self-study conducted by the school revealed that 100% of staff believe Roosevelt’s resources are being allocated based on the academic, social, emotional and physical needs of the school’s students. A core group of teachers at the school have been extensively trained on trauma-informed teaching and learning and now work to inform the building and district about the benefits of that approach.

“It takes commitment and teamwork to honestly and thoroughly assess areas of strength and at the same time identify a plan for continual growth,” stated Tami Staloch-Schultz, chair of the Minnesota School of Excellence Committee. “Schools that receive validation have had important data-driven conversations about what a high-quality, modern learning experience should be for all students and have plans to make that learning experience a reality for many years to come.”

Roosevelt serves roughly 600 students in the Detroit Lakes Public School District. The school’s mission is to nurture and develop the full potential of all learners in an environment where lifelong learning is valued, excellence is expected and improvement is continuous.

Byron Primary School of the Byron Public School District, and Discovery Elementary of Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Public Schools, were also recognized as 2021-2022 Minnesota Schools of Excellence.