Lyndale celebrates School of Excellence validation

Jon Millerhagen, executive director of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association, presents a School of Excellence award to Lyndale Community School.

Lyndale Community School celebrated its status as a School of Excellence during an all-school assembly on May 21.

Members of the school’s 2016-17 instructional leadership team accepted a School of Excellence award from Minnesota Elementary School Principal’s Association Executive Director Jon Millerhagen. Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff praised the students, staff and community for their work.

“You’re doing a great job of demonstrating what it means to be a Lyndale Eagle,” he told the students.

The ceremony came nearly nine months after the pre-K-5 school of about 515 students received the School of Excellence validation. The Minnesota Elementary School Principal’s Association gives the status to schools who go through a prescribed self-reflection process and make a plan to build on their strengths and address weaknesses.

The process doesn’t penalize schools if they have lower levels of student achievement, said Sam Richardson, chair of the association’s School of Excellence Committee. Rather, he said, it honors the schools for engaging in the process of self-study.

“This process helps people reflect on the types of things they are doing very well and the success they are having with students,” Richardson said.

Richardson said it typically takes schools two years to go through the process. He said the School of Excellence validation lasts for seven years.

Richardson said that self-reflection can help staff at schools ensure they’re not taking for granted the programs and systems they have in place. He noted that educators sometimes think about day-to-day progress in terms of what’s not being accomplished or what’s not working. The School of Excellence application process, he said, helps them see what is working at schools.

Lyndale went through the self-study process in the winter of 2016. Members of the school’s instructional leadership team subsequently analyzed the responses and summarized them in the second part of their School of Excellence application.

In a press release, Lyndale Principal Mark Stauduhar said the process helped the school identify its strengths, which include the ways it partners with the community. He noted the school’s band, orchestra and choral partnerships as well as its partnership with Children’s Theatre Company.

The May 21 assembly was part of a week of celebration for Lyndale, which turned 50 years old this year. Students and staff also created a community art installation, created a time capsule and participated in a community celebration.

Art teacher Leann Walker presented the time capsule to the students during the assembly on the 21st, going through the items that each grade level added and announcing their predictions for 25 years into the future. The students cheered boisterously as Walker announced the first graders’ prediction: that there would be robotic pencils that could do homework for you.

“It is no wonder that Lyndale Community School has been successful in undergoing the School of Excellence program,” Graff later said.