School Spotlight: North View Middle School
When it first opened in 1970 in Brooklyn Park, North View was a junior high. Today, North View is one of four middle schools in the Osseo School District, and it's educating students from around the world.

North View Middle School Principal Diana Bledsoe has a unique perspective as she walks the halls of her Brooklyn Park school. In the early 1990s, principal Bledsoe was a student at North View Junior High, and back then, the student population looked very different.

"As a black female, I was probably one of maybe 20 [African-American students], and right now we are 90 percent students of color, we're from a variety of backgrounds," said Bledsoe.

Today, North View Middle School is one of the most diverse schools in Minnesota. Many of the 672 students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades bring an international flavor to the school, with heritage from Africa, Asia and Central America.

"When you have a student body that has a background from across the world, it is incredibly important to make sure that they see themselves in the curriculum," said Bledsoe.

At this school, honoring and incorporating student voice and culture is a big deal. In the school library, library media specialist Anna Teeple works to bring in new books that better reflect her students' lives.

"People have commented when they come to North View, they see our students walking around with books," said Teeple. "Kids have them [books] in their arms, and they check out, and they're excited. I did have a student come up to the desk and say, actually voice, 'I'm checking these books out because there are pictures of me. They look like me.'"

This school doesn't shy away from important conversations about race and equity. For staff that means embracing what they don't know and learning from it.

"I was shocked and a little bit angry that I didn't know all of these things that I feel like I should've known, so now I just keep digging and learning and continue to grow and learn as a teacher, and that's exciting," said Teeple.

Several times a year, North View dad Keith Venus makes a point of spending a day in the school .

"I've come to the school walked through classes with my kids," said Venus. "It's very inviting. The staff is awesome."
What he likes best is how his daughter is treated and how she's grown into an A/B student even while she learns with dyslexia.

"They encourage her, and that's what I like. I love that because I don't want her to use it [dyslexia] like a crutch," said Venus.

Principal Bledsoe has walked in her students' shoes before.

"Knowing that I went here and their teacher went here, and the hall monitor went here, makes them [students] think that alright, I can potentially be the principal, the teacher, or in that school community," said Bledsoe.

There's a community of North View Knights, past and present at the school, and an understanding they're all in it together.

"It's all about us understanding that we are a school community, and we rise and fall together," said Bledsoe.

Each year, North View students take on community service projects. In September, students made blankets for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Alexandra Renslo reporting
Twitter: @alexrenslo

October 17, 2017


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