Northport Elementary School

Northport Elementary jumped into Turnaround Arts: Minnesota with wholehearted enthusiasm by organizing a school beautification day before school started in 2014. Students, teachers, parents and community members all gathered with dozens of paint cans and brushes and began brightening up both the exterior and the interior of the school. It was their way of showing they are a new school on a new path through the arts.

At the end of the first year, behavior referrals and suspensions have decreased by 43% compared to the previous school year. Suspensions of African American boys is reduced by nearly 50%.

Northport student points at test scores on bulletin board
Northport Elementary School is part of the Robbinsdale School District and located in the Twin Cities first-ring suburb of Brooklyn Center. It is currently designated a Focus school, which means that it is one of the most significant contributors to the achievement gap in Minnesota. 
Northport's students are 42 percent African and African-American, 30 percent Hispanic, 14 percent Asian, 13 percent white, and one percent American Indian.
Currently 44 percent of Northport students come from homes where another language is spoken. Eighty-seven percent of students receive free or reduced lunch. Northport also has a high mobility rate, approximately 37 percent. 
Northport students singing songs from Annie
Personal experience and commitment
The principal, Leona Derden, believes that involvement in music contributed to her own academic and career success. Her childhood school gave her access to the arts so she understands from a deeply personal level how arts education helps to build “brain power.”
As a principal she has made sure that arts education is embedded in the school’s academics and she has created full-time art teacher and arts integrationist positions, in addition to music and theater offerings.
Doc Shaw visits with students in Northport classroom
Setting goals
The school’s arts leadership team and staff adopted the following arts targets for 2014-2015:
  • Integrate the arts with a focus on literacy and higher order thinking skills. 
  • Focus on English language arts, using theater skills and visual thinking strategies to help students build literacy skills. 
  • Increase family involvement through the arts. 
  • Establish an annual Beautification Day to increase family involvement.
  • Do a major theater production of the musical, “Annie.” 
  • Increase student engagement through arts integration in order to decrease student behavior problems. 
  • Train all staff in arts-based strategies to help students engage in the arts and learning through focus and self-regulation and to reinforce and deepen learning. 


Northport Elementary School: Quick Facts

Northport Elementary School, 5421 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Center, MN 55429


Principal: Fredrico Rowe


Grades K-5

Enrollment: 656


2012 MDE Designation: Priority

2014 MDE Designation: Focus

2016 MDE Designation: Focus


Student Population

42%   African American

15%   Asian

13%   White

29%   Hispanic

1%     Native American

83%   Free/reduced lunch

3%     Homeless and highly mobile

33%   English Learner


Northport Turnaround Arts Mission Statement

Northport Elementary inspires and educates all learners, through the arts and culturally relevant practices, to develop their unique potential and contribute positively to their community.