School of Excellence

Barnum Elementary is a MN School of Excellence

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The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century.

Below is a copy of an article highlighting Barnum Elementary that was published online at Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association’s web site. Go to for more information.

Tom Cawcutt is the principal of Barnum Elementary School located in Barnum, MN, a small, rural community approximately 150 miles north of the Twin Cities. The school serves 450 students in kindergarten through grade 6 and is committed to excellence in education through up-to-date teaching strategies, thorough curriculum reviews, and a collective behavior management program.

At Barnum Elementary excellence in education begins with their small class sizes. Ranging from 15 – 23 students, smaller classes provide a supportive teacher-student ratio and allow for individual support for all learning styles and abilities. Teachers work diligently on differentiating to meet the needs of all learners and create lessons that foster creativity, establish meaning, and are relevant for 21st century learners.

A leader in the area of technology, Barnum Elementary School continually ensures faculty and students have access to up-to-date resources. Each classroom has a Smartboard, student computers, and is wired for WiFi access. In addition, starting in the fall of 2012, each student will have an iPad as part of a 1:1 iPad initiative for elementary students.

“The Barnum school community strives to provide in and out-of-school learning experiences that will broaden the framework for child development beyond academics,” said Cawcutt. Some examples of these experiences include, All Arts Day and International/World’s Fair. All Arts Day gives students the opportunity to work with local artists to create projects and learn more about the arts. At the annual Barnum Elementary World’s Fair, grade 6 students learn and celebrate different cultures and beliefs through presentations, music and food.

“Positive family-school relationships are integral to the success of Barnum students, and parent and community support is significant,” said Cawcutt. The school hosts parent teacher conferences twice yearly and families have a 98% attendance and participation rate. In return, Barnum faculty and staff routinely attend school board meetings to promote the needs of their students and families. The school board has listened to the needs of the school community and has initiated a number of resources, including a Wellness Committee, which promotes healthy choices within healthy lives, financial support of ECFE to expand family options, and maintaining small class sizes within all grades at Barnum Elementary.