Situated in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley, North Elementary School is located in the middle of Saint Peter within an established neighborhood of residential homes. From the outside, it looks no different than most traditional elementary schools. And although North’s physical structure and location is impressive and well-maintained, it pales in comparison to the creative and personalized learning experiences that occur on a daily basis in and around the school.

In serving students in grades 2-4, North Elementary places a strong emphasis on expanding and accelerating student learning in the core areas of literacy and mathematics. Lesson design and classroom structures at this level reflect an intervention and enrichment philosophy to ensure high levels of learning for all students. To make this happen, all teachers differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs. During mathematics and reading blocks, students first participate in whole-class instruction and then transition to small groups that are configured based on student performance on weekly mini-assessments. Students who demonstrate significant learning needs are served by additional licensed teachers during Intervention/Enrichment (I/E) time. Students demonstrating mastery of core reading and math skills are involved in enrichment experiences during small group times. Because students move in and out of different groups throughout the school day, the stigma traditionally attached to “ability grouping” is a non-issue. Independent work is supported with mobile devices that reinforce math and reading skills.

Students at North Elementary experience physical education, art, music and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) on a rotating schedule. The “Take 20” room and North Star Studio give students the necessary space to extend their learning through physical movement and makerspaces.

Our work around social emotional learning is rooted in the belief that when children feel safe and recognized in the classroom, they can succeed academically. Social and emotional learning is the process of acquiring the skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively. Our building-wide PBIS curriculum is deeply embedded in research and an understanding of the developmental needs of our 2nd through 4th grade students. Specifically, North students learn a set of social and emotional skills that include cooperation, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.

Whether learning is happening in core or encore classes, a common thread of instruction is the use of 21st century skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Students are asked to develop and share thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions with their peers and work together to reach a goal. Students bring incredible know-how to school every day, and North teachers see it as their role to help students put their skills, talents and interests to work. In the end, students win when learning paths blossom and creativity is sparked. This is the overarching goal of North Elementary and we can’t wait to get started!