Staples, Minn.,
07:00 AM

Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Verndale School Districts Sign on to Become First High Reliability Schools in Minnesota

STAPLES, Minn. (14 December 2016) – National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) hosted assemblies at Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (WHA) and Verndale schools this week to celebrate the start of their High Reliability Schools (HRS) certification process. They will be the first Minnesota schools to become High Reliability certified, and will

serve as demonstration sites for other schools in the region, state, and beyond.

WHA and Verndale were chosen from a pool of strong applicants from Region 5 because of their exceptional demonstration of commitment to growth and continuous improvement. NJPA will fund the program for the next three years, and in conjunction with Marzano Research, provide professional development, coaching, and support throughout the process.

The HRS framework is based on 40 years of educational research by Dr. Robert J. Marzano and his team, and consists of five progressive levels of performance: Safe and Collaborative Culture, Effective Teaching in Every Classroom, Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, Standards-Referenced Reporting, and Competency-Based Education.

NJPA Senior Education Consultant Rynell Schock was instrumental in bringing this opportunity to Region 5. She says the program was chosen based on its breadth of years of research, its clarity, and applicability to school districts.

“For each level, NJPA consultants will use Marzano's surveys to assess the perceptions of all involved - students, staff, administration, and parents,” Schock explained. “Then, we'll take the information to Marzano Research and they will help the school develop a plan for improvement.”

Professional development and coaching will be provided at each level based on the needs of each school as

demonstrated by its surveys. A school achieves level certification and can move on in the process once its goals are met.

“Ultimately the goal is better instruction, more accountability, a culture and climate of learning, and specific training for our staff to help them get there,” said WHA Superintendent Eric Pingrey. “We want to have a school where students feel safe, where students learn, where students participate actively, and have a school that's supported by and works hand-in-hand with the community.”

Schock says the most important thing for WHA and Verndale community members to know is their school staff are committing to a long-term program that will provide better education for students, and will give other schools a model.

“There is a relentless dedication of time and effort that's being put forth,” Schock said. “And they're willing to have other schools in our region and beyond come into their setting, to learn from them and see their demonstration of highly reliable.”

All school districts in Region 5 (Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties) are invited to participate in the HRS trainings and work toward certification. Pequot Lakes and Upsala school districts have already expressed interest.

For more information on HRS training and professional development opportunities, visit, or contact Lori Duhn at 218-894-4586.

About NJPA

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with over 200 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.