Local elementary school nationally recognized for academic excellence

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 4:35 PM CDT
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CLOQUET, MN -- Churchill Elementary School in Cloquet is one of eight schools across Minnesota to receive a national Blue Ribbon distinction this year.

The U.S. Department of Education gives the award to schools that have closed the education achievement gap between subgroups of students.

“Teachers and all staff just do a wonderful job of just, you know, meeting the needs of the student,” said Principal David.

The school’s high level of academic achievement spans its different subgroups, such as American-Indian students, who consistently test in the top 15% of indigenous students across the state.

“One of the things that we’re always really in tune with and concerned about is making sure that all of our students are learning at a really high level,” Wangen said.

Wangen believes a unique approach to learning and a high level of attention from staff helped them achieve the Blue Ribbon award.

“You know, it takes a lot of cooperation. We have a really, really good like collaborative team building efforts that are consistently in play,” he said.

He believes the recognition wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful staff they have, but the staff say they don’t need recognition to do their job right.

“We don’t work for the reward. We work towards doing the best we can for each student at Churchill, but I think that’s paid off,” said Shelly Pritchett, a Special Education Teacher.

“The staff here really prioritizes relationships with the students and I think that that’s something that we really excel at here,” said Phil Beadle, who teaches American-Indian Education.

While Beadle maintained his humility, he says it’s nice that their hard work is being acknowledged.

“We believe that we’re doing a good job, but it validates the fact that we are doing a good job,” he said.

In November, Wangen and another teacher will visit Washington, D.C. as part of a national conference of other Blue Ribbon recipients.

They plan to hold a schoolwide celebration in December.