Community School of Excellence (CSE) is a PreK-10 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, 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.
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.
Opening in fall of 2007, CSE began as a gathering of dedicated parents and community members whose work and requests gave birth to the mission and vision of our community school. Among the founding volunteers are parents, community members and educators who continue to be passionate about providing a quality education and a nurturing environment to all students.
CSE's journey has led to new and essential initiatives and globally minded areas of focus. Since the inception of our school, we have moved to a larger and more robust school facility, tripled our student enrollment, expanded our curriculum and programs to include a Hmong Cultural Center, and we are taking bold steps toward becoming a center for 21st Century Learning.
At CSE, we purposely promote the 21st Century teaching models and we are committed to our students becoming responsible and capable global digital citizens. Every teacher and staff member at CSE operates in a collaborative manner and is committed to Collaboration, Communication, and supporting a Welcoming, Cooperative Community.
A welcoming, supportive and engaging environment, differentiated curriculum and instruction according to student needs, strengths and learning styles, Hmong Language, Culture and Literacy classes for all students, Instruction through co-teaching: together, teachers provide instruction through a Dual Layer Curriculum which focuses on content learning and language acquisition, simultaneous literacy instruction in all content areas (including reading, writing, listening, speaking and digital literacy) global, cultural and language literacies across the curriculum, creative literacies and student skills for 21st Century success, technology integration, web literacy and safety, college and career Readiness, including individual student mentor/mentee programs.
We are confident that CSE will continue to meet the needs of children in our community for many years to come. We invite you to share in our journey as we continue to grow, learn, and connect with community, both locally and around the world!
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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