Minneapolis North High welcomes Dr. Shawn Harris-Berry as new principal


Monday March 5, Northside community members gathered at the Minneapolis Urban League to welcome Dr. Shawn Harris-Berry as North High’s new principal. Community members along with parents, students and Minneapolis Public School officials were given the opportunity to ask and answer questions as well as learn about the ISA (Institute for Student Achievement) program that will be implemented in fall 2012, under Dr. Harris-Berry’s administration.

“I realize how important North is to the community and to the alumni,” said Dr. Harris-Berry. “I am elated about working with ISA. The network of principals is something I have never experienced. Together, we can do this.”

Prior to accepting the position at North High, Dr. Harris-Berry was the principal at Whittier International Elementary School where Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson says she continuously improved and transformed student performance.

“ISA uses a strong academic model to transform high schools using educational framework that is proven to improve student achievement,” Johnson said. “I have all the confidence in our new principal. I know she’s committed to initiating effective improvement strategies.”

A few of the strategies Dr. Harris-Berry pointed out include a two-month internship for seniors and a mentorship program for all grades. However, for now, North’s new program will only cater to this year’s incoming freshmen. With no more than 500 students, ISA will follow an arts and communications model combining inquiry based — and in some areas college level — curriculum.  If all goes well with the arts and communications small learning community, Dr. Harris-Berry says North will then add a STEM-focused school.

Students currently attending North High will completely phase out of the present International Baccalaureate-driven program by 2015.  Principal Peter Christensen will continue administering these students until then. 

“It’s a once in a career opportunity for a principal to actually begin a school,” said Dr. Harris-Berry. “There’s the support of the distinct office and ISA. I’m excited because the community is ready to roll up their sleeves and work with the school to move forward.”

Dr. Harris-Berry’s ultimate goal, she said, is to engage students within a solidified college and career readiness program.

“We want to create a school where students can see themselves outside of their community, going to college, even working overseas. We really just want to broaden the horizons of the students,” she said. “Valor or not, North is a diamond in the rough.”