Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Red Lake Schools Honored at Character Recognition Awards


Red Lake Early Childhood Center and Red Lake Elementary Complex each received a 2019 Minnesota Promising Practices Award at the Character Recognition Awards May 23 in St. Paul. The Red Lake schools were two of seven schools and three community programs honored by Synergy & Leadership Exchange for excellence in character and ethical leadership development. The celebration coincided with Governor Walz's Character Recognition Day proclamation.

Red Lake Early Childhood Center was recognized for the practice, "Begindergarten." This practice provides students with a safe and welcoming environment during their first experience with school to ensure a successful start for everyone. An altered schedule is combined with small-group activities that provide teachers with significant information about each student's current academic and social-emotional functioning while introducing every student to all of the adults in the building. Routines and expectations are modeled, taught and re-taught until all students are successful.

Red Lake Elementary Complex was recognized for the practice, "First Six Weeks." With this practice, traditional Anishinaabe/Ojibwe values are integrated with Responsive Classroom's First Six Weeks of School to create culturally responsive lessons that emphasize character traits and develop social-emotional skills. All teachers are provided lesson plans targeted to their grade level and content area/specialty as an initial guide.

"Probably the most important thing other educators could learn from and replicate with regard to our augmented First Six Weeks is that it is possible to enhance known evidence-based practices to include greater levels of cultural responsiveness and to incorporate additional opportunities for explicit character and social-emotional skills instruction," said Dustin Hinckley, director of special services.

Since implementing these practices, the school has seen reduced behavior referrals and overall school climate has been more positive, according to Hinckley.

The Minnesota Promising Practices Award celebrates unique and effective practices schools have created that promote character development. The practices are shared on the Synergy website to serve as an idea generator for other educators. Synergy has presented 94 Minnesota Promising Practices Awards since 2008. Visit the Synergy website to learn more about the program or view award winning Minnesota Promising Practices.

"In a time when divisive, negative news dominates the headlines, it is inspiring to see the great things students, schools, community groups and individuals are doing to encourage and promote good character and ethical leadership in Minnesota," shared Wanda Sommers Wall, executive director for Synergy & Leadership Exchange.

Synergy & Leadership Exchange hosts the Character Recognition Awards each year to spotlight schools and community programs with exemplary efforts, motivate honorees for continued effort and success, and inspire others with examples to replicate. The 2019 event was made possible in part by a generous sponsorship from the Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion, U.S. Army.

Synergy & Leadership Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering collaboration to advance the development of ethical citizens, providing educational resources, and celebrating achievement and best practices in Minnesota schools, businesses and communities. For more information about the Character Recognition Awards visit


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