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2019 State of the District Recap

2019 State of the District Recap
Posted on 03/18/2019
Dr. JenkinsRobbinsdale Area Schools’ annual State of the District Address featured musical performances, recognized the contributions of students and staff, shared inspiring words of where the district is heading and awarded five high school seniors with Butterfly Awards.

The evening’s program was emceed by Cooper High School senior Nora Griffith-Wiesner. Choir students from FAIR School Crystal sang the National Anthem, under the direction of Kim Keaton, choir teacher. John Vento, School Board Chair, and Peter Eckhoff, President of the Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers, gave opening remarks. The evening also featured a moving musical performance of “Shed a Little Light” by 1st grade students in Jennifer Berg’s class from FAIR School Pilgrim Lane Elementary.

FAIR Pilgrim Lane


Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D., gave the evening’s keynote address. He spoke of the district’s Unified District Vision (UDV), and how its development and adoption proceeded his 2015 arrival to District 281. The UDV inspired him to come to Robbinsdale Area Schools.

Dr. Jenkins explained how aligning policies, practices and resources with the UDV (adopted March 2014) and Equity Policy (adopted July 9, 2018) does not happen overnight; there needs to be a transformation process for organizational change. He said it is natural seek comfortability while yearning to reach the next level. However, Jenkins urged the audience to remember the words of Frederick Douglass, which warn us that positive transformations will not occur without some growing pains.

“ALL students in our district can be ready for careers, articulated skilled trades and college!” Near the end of his remarks, Jenkins posited the district could build the capacity to disrupt the predictability in achievement gaps. He stated these sorts of achievements could result from becoming more intentional about “Seeing All, Serving All, and Supporting All!” Jenkins ended his speech with the the challenging notion, “If it is to happen in this state, in this nation, it can happen in Robbinsdale first!”

The evening also recognized five students as Butterfly Award recipients. This district award is given to high school seniors for exemplary performance in academics, co-curricular activities or service. These are students who received local, state and national recognition. The honored students have shown a transformation not only in themselves but have impacted others. This was the third year for the Butterfly awards. The 2019 Butterfly Award recipients are:
  • Ben Aoki-Sherwood
  • Lucinda Anderson
  • Nadrat Amos
  • Nathan Welle
  • Nora Griffith-Wiesner
To read more about our Butterfly Award recipients, please click here.

Dr. Jenkins gave special recognition to the School of Engineering and Arts (SEA) on being named a 2018 National Blue Ribbon Award recipient. He also recognized those who have demonstrated the ability to reach new heights and embody the values of our Unified District Vision:
  • Lakeview Elementary School, under the leadership of Principal Bridget Hall, is making outstanding progress with the Primary Years Programme.
  • Relay for Life Co-Chairs - Bo Youman, Abby Blumer and Orla White who are raising funds to fight cancer.
  • Our students who participate in community service projects, not only locally but globally, including Diego Umana, Jack Loso, Martin Michelli and Shane Seiffert who worked to bring clean water to a community in Honduras.
  • AP Scholars from Armstrong High School who demonstrate academic excellence.
  • IB Students from Cooper High School who earned the Silver Platter Award, showing excellence is the standard.
  • Caroline Wilcox, an Armstrong High School senior who received a financial literacy scholarship.
  • Sarah Schiff, a junior at Armstrong with incredible musical talent who won the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition at St. John's University in November.
  • The RSI Chess Team who won the 2018 National Chess Championship under the direction and leadership of Dana Litman and Jonathan London.
  • Andrew Gentner, who is advocating for Skilled Trades education and programming.
  • Armstrong Nordic Ski Teams (Girls - State Champs; Boys - 3rd in State).
  • Cooper Girls Basketball Team (2018 State Champs and Went Back to State in 2019).
  • Robins Adapted Team who continue to be in the hunt for state championships year after year.
  • MN Teacher of the Year nominee Colleen Crossley (Adult Academic Program) and semifinalist Wilbur Winkelman (Lakeview Elementary).
  • Carrie Ehn (SEA) MN Science teacher of the year!
  • The unnamed students and staff members who work hard every day to make our district proud by doing the seemingly small things like resisting bullying and fighting for human decency. They embody the Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”