About Us

About Us

Community School of Excellence (CSE) is a K-8 Hmong language and culture school located in St. Paul, Minnesota. The school was started by a group of dedicated educators, parents and community members who had a desire and passion to create a Hmong language and culture school that truly belonged to the community and provided a world class education for all students.The school is a unique, K-8 charter focused on Hmong language and culture that is supported by 40,000 Hmong residents living in the Saint Paul, Frogtown, and North End neighborhoods. CSE is a very welcoming school open to all neighborhood children that offers students and families a world class education in a supportive setting.

Our Mission

Community School of Excellence, a parent community partnership, provides a world-class education through a caring and innovative environment that fosters inquiring, knowledgeable and compassionate students who embrace the Hmong culture and celebrate intercultural understanding and respect.


21st Century Skills

Our children today are learning in a world which requires new literacy and skills for success. 21st Century education is more innovative and interactive than ever. Project-based learning opportunities allow our students to discover their leadership potential and refine their collaborative skills as they prepare for an exciting 21st Century workforce. We are a student-centered school that strives to create individual learning experiences while offering state-mandated core curriculum. See how CSE is serving students in each of the 21st Century Literacy areas that are important to their growth:


Global Literacy:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Learners work collaboratively with classmates and others around the world
  • Authentic connections with local and global community members
  • Global connections beginning in kindergarten
  • Preparing students for a globalized, multi-media, integrated society
  • Current-event connections across all subject areas

Language Literacy:

  • Promote effective oral and written communication
  • Hmong Literacy for all students: reading, writing, listening,speaking
  • Chinese language classes taught by our Exchange Teacher from Beijing
  • English Language integration and support; language teaching in all subject areas
  • ESL/ ELL Coteachers collaborate with all classes to support language learning

Cultural Literacy:

  • Welcoming environment and positive inter-cultural interactions
  • Hmong integrations in all curriculum areas
  • Units are planned to reflect cultural connections in every subject
  • Cooperative learning strategies to promote skills for working with others
  • Study of self and the world
  • Interpersonal skills as a key element to classroom interactions
  • Positive communication with others from cultures and backgrounds which differ from our own
  • International Baccalaureate curriculum supports knowledge of self and world cultures

Digital Literacy:

  • Web literacy and internet safety
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Allowing student to use technology to foster creativity and contributions
  • Multiple methods for computing: mobile laptop station, iPod Touches, SMART boards, computer labs
  • Expanding use of classroom web 2.0 tools to collaborate with others (skype, edmodo, twitter, so forth)
  • Integrating technology as a daily life-skill vs. an add-on
  • Teachers continuously learn and add to their own web 2.0 and technology skills
  • Administrative support and modeling

Creative Literacy:

  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Curiosity and Imagination
  • Promote risk-taking and innovation, classes are not one-size-fits-all
  • Flexible teaching methods: use of Gardner's Mulitiple Intelligences in all classes
  • Opportunities for authentic assessments- with real life audience
  • Challenge student to contribute to their society
  • CSE's new building has expanded space for: computer labs, Art lab, science lab, gyms, and music space
  • Extended day: Hmong cultural enrichment opportunities foster creativity and expression

Hmong History

Who are the Hmong?

The Hmong people are a minority ethnic group that originated in China as early as the third century. With the rise of communism, the Hmong were forced to conform to Chinese customs. After several wars with the Chinese, they started to migrate. Many settled in Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, and Vietnam. However, a majority of the Hmong people found peace in Laos and stayed there for years.In the 1960’s and 1970’s, a vast majority of Hmong men were secretly recruited by the CIA as part of a plan to defend Laos against communism as well as assist Americans in their war efforts in Southeast Asia. In 1975, the American armed forces lost the war and pulled out of Vietnam and Laos. This withdrawal left thousands of Hmong in danger because of their alliance with the United States. They were then the target of retaliation and persecution under the new regime. Without a safe place to hide or rebuild their lives, the Hmong were forced to trek across the deep Mekong River into Thailand for freedom. This marked the beginning of the mass exodus of Hmong people from Laos.Once in Thailand, the Hmong were housed in refugee camps while waiting for their opportunity to come to America or to other countries. From the late 1970’s to the mid 1990’s, a large percentage of Hmong resettled in countries like the United States, Canada, France and Australia. In 2004, the last wave of Hmong refugees came to America through government-implemented refugee programs.Today, there are close to 300,000 Hmong people living in America. In the Twin Cities alone, there are approximately 60,000 Hmong residents.


Hmong Clans

At birth, a Hmong child automatically takes the father’s surname and becomes a lifetime member of that clan. Women, however, marry and take on new identities in their husband’s clan. There are 18 clans within the Hmong community. They include: Cha (Chang), Chue, Cheng, Fang, Hang, Her, Khang, Kong, Kue, Lor (Lo Lao), Lee (Ly), Moua, Pha, Thao (Thor), Vang, Vue, Xiong and Yang.

Hmong clans exist to provide social support, legal authority and economic security for each other. All members of the same clan are referred to as “kwv tij”, or brothers, and are socially and culturally expected to provide mutual assistance to one another. Any disputes or issues between two Hmong people or different clans will typically be settled by clan leaders. Each clan leader is responsible for handling conflict negotiation and occasional maintenance of religious rituals. However, within each clan are several sub clans whose members can trace their ancestors to a common person or share a common tradition of ancestral worship and other ritual practices.


When two new Hmong people meet for the first time, they usually exchange names and clan membership. If they belong to the same clan, they will establish the relationship within the clan. If not, they will establish their relationship through the marriage of their kin, beginning with their wives and aunts. They will address each other using kinship terms such as brother, uncle, aunt, and so on. All Hmong people consider themselves related somehow, either through close or distant relatives. As a result, kinship is the essence of Hmong life.


Data retrieved from the Hmong American Partnership at http://www.hmong.org/page33422626.aspx and http://www.hmong.org/page33444533.aspx