Hiawatha Leadership Academy: “I Seek to Understand”

Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a K-4 South Minneapolis charter school with nearly 98% Latino and African American students, is at the top of the list of Minnesota’s high-performing schools.

On September 4, I toured the school for myself. Students had been in school for over two weeks, and it was 90 degrees outside. Yet there was passion and excitement everywhere from teachers and students. The music teacher/guitarist had the first graders singing and telling a story waving their arms in the air. Several teachers were reading books in their classrooms with the skills of thespians, and the children were rapt with attention.

The shirts worn by the youngsters spoke to the culture of this impressive school. They proudly wore on their backs phrases like “I seek to understand.” “I am the change.” “I’m 100% H.E.A.R.T.” (Honor, Excellence, Always Try Again, Responsibility, Team). These young people are “Scholars Today, Leaders Tomorrow.” Their mission statement, pictured to right, says it all.


Hiawatha Leadership Academies are now a network of three nonprofit public charter schools led by Executive Director Eli Kramer, left, who tells me he will not be satisfied until every child is 100% proficient. “We believe all children have potential to succeed,” he says. And he and his team will do whatever it takes to make that happen.


Visits like this fill my heart– especially when they are just a few miles from home.