This is a list compiled by Katie Kaufman of some good things happening in the Duluth Schools. These things have happened despite uncertainty about which facilities we might or might not close. They are partly the result of several years of stability both on the Board and in the Administration. When the big fish are in a frenzy the little fish get eaten. 


Contact:  Katie Kaufman, 218-336-8735


Duluth Public Schools Quality of Education:


--Three of our schools have earned the MESPA School of Excellence Award:  Ordean, Piedmont and Stowe.


--A recent report shows our students scoring above state and national averages on the ACT college entrance tests five years in a row.  


--In 2002, our high school students earned over 5000 college credits through advanced courses, and our graduates qualified for over $7 million in scholarships. 


--One of our elementary schools had the #1 reading scores in the state in 2002.  


--Recent reports show our third and fifth grade students exceeding state reading averages five years in a row. 


-- Out of 850 schools, two of our elementaries scored in the top ten statewide for reading, and four had reading scores in the top 10%. 


--In our Family Survey 2002 results, over 80% of respondents gave their school a grade of "B" or higher.


-- Duluth has some of the most experienced, educated teachers in the state.  Teachers have an average of 15 years experience and nearly 70% hold a Masters degree, well above state averages.


--Our three regular high schools have an average graduation rate of 92%, and a drop out rate of only 2.9%.

--New school "report cards" are now available to the public on the Minnesota Department of Education website at  The cards give schools a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 star rating based on a variety of factors, including academic achievement, opportunity, school safety, and participation, among others. All Duluth Public Schools received at least a "3 Star" rating, which means they are making adequate yearly progress in Reading and Math, and had 95% of their students take the state test.  Two of our schools, Lester Park and Lakewood , merited five stars in both Reading and Math.  Congdon Park earned five stars in reading, four stars in math.  Laura MacArthur earned four stars in both Reading and Math. 

-- In July 2003, the Minnesota Department of Education released a preliminary list of over 250 schools and districts that may be cited as "needing improvement."   Although Duluth is considered an urban school district and faces tough challenges in that regard, we have no regular elementary, middle or high schools on that list.

--2003 MCA Reading and Math Results

·        Average Grade 5 math scores for the district up 25 points from last year.

·        Average Grade 3 math scores up 68 points.  

·        District scores are above state average in all categories.

·        Children scoring at or above grade level is above state average in all categories and growing.

·        Children identified by the test as academically "at-risk" went down.  

·        Schools with high numbers of socio-economically challenged students made significant    gains.  

·        Students scoring at or above grade level has grown every year for the past four years.  

--Our high schools and alternative programs had good results on the Grade 11 MCA Math tests.  Central, Denfeld and East high schools had scale scores above grade level proficiency.  Even alternative programs like Unity, Woodland Hills and the Area Learning Center , serving students facing many challenges, had scale scores close to or above grade level proficiency.  East High School scored in the top 8% statewide.  Out of 520 high schools reporting scores, East placed #38 in math.  Out of 493 high schools East placed #35 in reading.


--Our district has been selected to receive an Emerging District Leader Award for service learning programs.  The award is presented by the Minnesota Department of Education.


-- Despite Minnesota ’s budget deficit, we remain fiscally sound.  Moody’s Investor Services, a national bond agency, upgraded our General Obligation Debt Rating in 2002 -- analysts are clearly comfortable with the measures we’ve taken to ensure financial stability.

--We have a well-defined curriculum.  There are still districts struggling to align what they teach with state requirements, and haven’t delineated by grade level where certain skills should be introduced, taught, and reinforced.  We’ve done a good job with that.

--We provide data to our schools to help them focus on improvement.  We review test data, do parent surveys and create site improvement plans with help from site councils comprised of parents, teachers, and community members. 

--We have new grounds, fields, and athletic facilities at our high schools.

-Public School Stadium:  artificial turf and new track. 

- Central High School :  new track, football, baseball, softball fields and tennis courts. 

- East High School – new track surface. 

-Ordean Field - renovated baseball field, new soccer/football field.

--Students who need extra help, or something beyond the regular classroom experience don’t need to go out of district.  The district offers alternatives through Unity High School , North Star Middle School and the STC 8th Grade program for at-risk students. 

--The Secondary Technical Center prepares kids for careers and/or college after high school:  most courses are articulated for college credit, most courses offer industry standards and/or certifications that are recognized throughout the country.  The STC has state and national award winning programs and staff.  Staff have industry certifications and qualifications; they’re also caring, knowledgeable and skilled.  The STC works with MNSCU, Dunwoody in the Twin Cities, Universal Technical Institute (UTI) outside Chicago , Indianhead Technical College and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.  Concurrent enrollment. The STC serves kids in and outside of the Duluth Public School system.


--A recent article in the St. Paul Pioneer press reported on the gap between ethnic groups when it comes to performance on state tests. The article ignored the positive results we’ve achieved here in Duluth .  Duluth ’s American Indian and African American students have increased pass rates by more than 20% in the last three years while the State’s pass rate for these students has remained fairly stable.  Increases this large should make us proud, as we are working towards the goal of “Leaving No Child Left Behind”.


What can Duluth Public Schools offer your child?


--Magnet schools emphasizing language, music, math and science.


-- Advanced placement and college prep courses, opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to earn college and vocational credit.


--Service Learning opportunities – combining service to the community with in-depth student learning.


--Computer labs


--Caring, competent teachers: some of the most experienced in the state.


--The support of hundreds of volunteers throughout our schools.  We have site councils, comprised of parents, teachers, staff and community members to advise our principals and help create school improvement plans. PTA and PTSAs provide invaluable input and support.  Many volunteer groups are involved in our classrooms, including University of Minnesota Duluth Darland Connection tutors, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Foster Grandparent Program and VISTA volunteers. 


--Results measured by nationally standardized tests, Minnesota State Achievement tests as well as Basic Skills tests in math, reading and written composition.


--Special education, and programs for students with special needs.


--A wide range of extracurricular activities: Boys and Girls Athletics, Intramurals , Speech, Drama, Yearbook, Magazine, Newspaper, Language and Cultural Clubs, Debate, Knowledge Bowl, Math Club, Physics Club, Band, orchestra, ensemble, choir, DECA, Odyssey of the Mind, Student Forum, National Honor Society and much more.


--Parental involvement is welcome and encouraged.

-- Duluth Public School ’s Desegregation and Integration program creates opportunities for students to get involved with people from diverse cultural, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.  We provide peer leadership training, student and teacher scholarships, and multicultural activities such as Kwanzaa Celebrations, Pow-wows, Chinese New Year events and a Cultural Fair. 

--Community Education programs provide learning opportunities for all ages, ranging from foreign languages to physical fitness to cooking.  After school programs for children include everything from safety to swimming to baby-sitting. Our Secondary Technical Center offers high school career and technical education programs.  The Area Learning Center provides diploma options and adult basic skills development, all based on respect for an individual learner’s skills, needs and goals.  Early Childhood programs provide support for children birth to five years old. Our Special Services department provides support for children with special needs.

-- Our schools are active in the community, working with businesses and organizations throughout Duluth .  One such partnership resulted in a new playground for Congdon Park in 2002, funded with help from parents, local organizations and businesses, and designed by elementary students.

--We have many exciting partnerships with other area educational institutions, including Lake Superior College , the University of Minnesota Duluth and St. Scholastica. One of our partnerships involved bringing wireless technology into Woodland Middle School and Nettleton Elementary school to facilitate innovative learning. 


--Our schools and programs enjoy generous financial support from several community organizations including the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the Ordean Foundation and Northland Foundation.  Over the last 7 or 8 years these organizations together have provided in excess of $500,000 for educational programs and equipment


Individual, School and District Accomplishments: 


 The following Duluth Public Schools teachers have completed 40 hours of leadership training and have been named Intel Teach to the Future Master Teachers.  The training enables them to deliver professional development to their colleagues during the 2003-2004 school year.

These teachers learned how, when, and where to integrate technology into instruction.  Topics included hands-on use of the Internet, Web page design, multimedia presentations, student publications, copyright and fair use. Emphasis is on student use of technology in the classroom for research, communications, productivity strategies and working in teams to solve problems.

Congratulations to:

·        Ed Lewis and Cheryl Kurosky, Central High School

·        Carol Holm, Woodland Middle School

·        Bruce Holm, Morgan Park Middle School

·        Greg Jones and Joan Knutsen, East High School

·        Susan Solin, Fred Gustafson, Tim Churchill, Ordean Middle School

·        Cindy Miller, Laurie Washburn, Lincoln Park School

·        Marilyn Fleming, Vivian Markley, Stowe Elementary School

·        Cherie Pettersen, CAB-Curriculum

The Minnesota Association of School Administrators, Region 7, selected Superintendent Julio Almanza to receive its Excellence Award.  Region 7 consists of 32 school districts in Northeastern Minnesota .

The Minnesota Music Educators Association selected twenty-four of our high school students to participate in their All-State music camp in August.  Duluth Central High School and Duluth East High School both sent twelve music students to this statewide event. Congratulations to these students and their teachers! 

The following East High School students will receive Presidential Student Service Awards for over 100 hours of service to the Junior Buddy Program at East:  Erin Haugen, Sara Marshall, Emily Marshall, Peter Hystead, Timothy Wheeler, Amy Johnson, Annika Gangeness, and Grant Fifield.  In the Junior Buddy program, high school juniors mentor ninth grade students.  The Presidential Student Service Awards is a national program recognizing "Youth Serving Youth". 

Central High School took first place in the Tier 1 Region Knowledge Bowl Tournament.  East High School took second place.

Central High School and Congdon Park Elementary school took first place in the annual K-12 school chess tournament, which included local public, private and charter schools.  Gregory Deckham from Chester Park Elementary took an individual first place award.  Four Central students tied for first place with perfect scores:  Andy McKinnon, Nick Hannual, Eric Kessler and Jamie Blodgett.

Annette Strom, a teacher at Ordean Middle School , was selected to win the 2003 Seagate Mentor Award.  Her students and colleagues nominated her as an outstanding science teacher.  With this award, Ordean Middle School will receive a check for $1000 to be used for their science program.

A Duluth-based program to promote infant wellness has received national exposure.  Zero to Three Magazine is a bulletin of the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.  The magazine recently included an article about The First Year Program, a local collaborative effort to enhance infant mental health by supporting new parents who have limited financial and life resources.  The First Year Program is a collaboration between Duluth Public Schools Early Childhood Family Education, Lutheran Social Services, St. Louis County Public Health, and the Human Development Center .  The program is funded by grants from the Family Services Collaborative, the Children’s Trust Fund and in-kind contributions.  The project is in its fifth year. 

The Seadogs, a drill team for the Navy’s junior ROTC program at our Secondary Technical center, won a 10-state regional championship.  The team consists of Denfeld, Central and East High School students.

Jill Lofald from Denfeld High School was selected as the Outstanding Speech and Theater Educator of the Year by the National Federation of High School Speech, Theater and Debate Association.  She has been a speech and theater teacher at Denfeld for 19 years.

Mike Hanson, a senior at Central and a student at the Secondary Technical Center , placed first in the Minnesota Skills secondary automotive competition at St. Cloud Technical College .  The competition consists of several hands-on stations, a written exam and a job interview station.  Students from across the state test their ability and compete for prizes and scholarships.

The Secondary Technical Center NJROTC Unit has been designated a Distinguished NJROTC Unit for the 2003-04 school year.  The distinction is made in recognition of the outstanding support STC provides to NJROTC, and the overall achievement of the program.

Sheryl Jensen from East High School was among 12 finalists for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program.  A Selection Panel of 22 leaders in the areas of business, government and non-profits selected the finalists from a semi-finalist group of 39 Teachers of Excellence.  There were 134 applicants in the original pool for this year’s award.

Seven Duluth School teams attended the State Destination ImagiNation Tournament this year. They are the Laura MacArthur Video Voyagers, the Homecroft 4 Girlyz, the Woodland Thinky Thinkers 2003, the Lester Park Extreme Power, Chester Park Acting Kid Theater Stars, Chester Park Theatrical Robbers and the Ordean Dinomite Dudettes 

Cyndi Venberg from Lowell has been awarded a grant from the Education Minnesota Foundation for a project called Understand Through Teamwork. 

Twenty-four students from Medical Occupations classes at the Secondary Technical Center .  They attended the State Leadership Conference for Health Occupations in Plymouth , Minnesota .  They competed in 24 events related to health care and came home with nineteen awards including 13 Gold Medals.

Maxwell Christian Hansen, a student at Congdon Park School has qualified for the 2003 Minnesota State Geographic Bee Finals. 

In the Comment section of the Family Survey, positive comments outnumbered negative comments two to one.  Parents most often said they like the education, classes, high expectations and nurturing environment provided by schools.

John Hillman, an 8th grader at Woodland Middle School , won first place in the Northeast Regional Spelling Bee.  He’ll go on to compete in the state spelling bee.

Jessica Reckinger and Macaulley Whitlock were chosen to be among 100 members of the Minnesota Elementary Honor Choir by the Minnesota American Choral Director's Association. Both are sixth-graders at Duluth 's Lowell Music Magnet School .

Ken Jensen and Sheryl Jensen of Duluth Public Schools were among 134 teachers nominated statewide to be considered for Education Minnesota's 2003 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Congdon Elementary School is among a very limited number of schools that Minnesota will recommend for the 2003 No Child Left Behind – Blue Ribbon Schools Award.

Teacher Mary Jo Furtman of Ordean Middle School has been nominated for the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Teaching.

Ordean Middle School placed in the top 50 schools for numbers of students passing the BST reading tests. 

East High School placed in the top 50 schools for 10th Grade Reading and Writing.

Woodland Middle School placed in the top 100 for 8th Grade Reading. .

Our tenth graders scored above average in all categories of the state reading test and on the state writing test.

Sixteen students from Ordean, East, Denfeld and Unity had their artwork used in the Minnesota School Boards Association Journal, a statewide magazine for board members and educators.

Megan Bartel, East High, had her artwork featured on the cover.

Each year WDSE-TV8 conducts a High School Essay, Art and Photography Contest. Hundreds of high school students from across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin compete. Elizabeth Andersen, East High School , took first place in the Essay contest.  Essay Finalists include Vince Semaan, David Allen Lovold and Charissa Nagle from the Secondary Technical Center and Jacob Krokum, Brittney Saline and Will Ashenmacher from East.

Nicole Skoglund of Denfeld took third place in the WDSE-TV High School Art contest.  Megan Bartel from East was among the finalists.

Woodland ’s VISTA employee/volunteer Sara Armlin has arranged placement for approximately 130 college tutors at Woodland during the current school year. Tutors work one-on-one or within classrooms to assist students with their academics.

The Woodland Grades 7 and 8 Math Team earned second place in the Minnesota Junior High Math League competition - Duluth Division.

Chris Martin, Morgan Park Middle School , won this year’s Duluth City Wide Spelling Bee.  Out of the 13 top spellers in Duluth , 11 were Duluth Public School students.

Approximately 75 students from Duluth Public School ’s Secondary Technical Center (STC) are helping Habitat for Humanity build a house in Duluth .  In addition to helping a local family build a home, they’re earning credits, learning valuable life skills, and discovering whether they’d enjoy a career in construction (especially in northern Minnesota’s cold weather!).  ROTC students from the STC help out on weekends.

Central High School has a state of the art Music Notation Software Lab in their music department.  Charlie Liebfried, band teacher at Central High School was the Minnesota Music Educator of the Year in 2001

Honors Government Class at Central High School has represented Minnesota in the National US Constitution competition in Washington DC for the past two years.

Through the Mentorship Duluth Educators Program, experienced teachers mentor new teachers in the district.  There are over 40 first and second year teams in operation, and the model is being copied in other school districts.   

To improve the image of downtown Duluth , students from Grant Elementary and Lincoln Park School painted empty storefront windows.  This service learning project was coordinated in cooperation with the Greater Downtown Council. 

In 2002, our Secondary Technical Center partnered with Automotive Youth Education Systems, which will provide students not only the finest training but over $1 million each in curriculum materials and support.

Duluth Public Schools was awarded a Physical Education for Progress grant totaling over $300,000.  Funding provides Duluth students with innovative approaches to physical activity and health, and the knowledge they need to stay healthy and active throughout their lives. 

Lincoln Park and Nettleton Schools both received a two-year grant totaling $1 million to support community/school reading programs.  Our Title 1 program received $2.7 million to supplement reading and math programs for at-risk students.

The district accepted a grant of over $175,000 to update its telecommunications systems.  This grant not only saves $175,000 in capital expenditures – the updated equipment will result in ongoing operational savings as well.

St. Louis Co. selected East High School , Lester Park, Rockridge and Nettleton as four outstanding food operations in the county.  The award is given to “those facilities that put forth exemplary effort to protect the health and safety of their customers and consistently meet or exceed accepted standards of operation.”  Lester Park and Rockridge Schools were also recognized by the county as an outstanding food operation.

In addition to an academic program emphasizing math and science, Nettleton has a very popular sixth grade drumming group. Twenty-six students play traditional African Drums and other percussion instruments in a variety of world rhythms, and they play for community groups and gatherings.

Nettleton Students in grades 3-6 are creating a poetry book in honor of Sam Solon with the help of Senator Yvonne Prettner-Solon, Representative Mike Jaros and area poets.

Lou Zywicki, a staff member at the Secondary Technical Center and a licensed English instructor, has had three stories and one article published in “A Cup of Comfort,” “Teaching Tolerance Magazine,” and “Between Stone and Flesh.”