Hopkins, Minn. principal pledges stronger focus on racial equality as students return to class

Leanne Kampfe is part of a group of Twin Cities principals trying to enact change that brings about more equality. (FOX 9)

As more and more students in the Hopkins school district head back to the classroom, one principal is pledging not to return to the status quo.

The principal at Hopkins West Junior High is taking steps to ensure that all students have access to a quality education.

Before Governor Walz announced his education plan Tuesday, a group of local principals made a commitment to engage in more equitable educational practices.

A principal in Hopkins is one of many administrators that have been putting in the work.

Leanne Kampfe is the principal at Hopkins West Junior High School. She’s part of a coalition of more than 150 administrators working to make the education system more equitable. They call themselves the "Good Trouble Principals."

"I know that our society and our schools are set up in a way to help someone like me succeed, even more so if I was a male," Kampfe said. "So I think it’s really important that people who look like me are right there in the middle of the fight to try to change that."

Months into a national reckoning on race, and as more and more students return to the classroom, Kampfe is pledging not to return to the status quo.

"It’s important to me because I feel that every human deserves to be recognized as human and to have all of their gifts valued," she said.

The focus on racial equity, Kampfe says, covers a wide range of priorities including the approach to learning and hiring.

"We need to hire more staff of color," she explained. "If we're going to hire staff of color, we have to have a place where staff of color are comfortable and feel welcomed, and want to stay and that’s about the culture in your building."

The effort comes as Governor Walz announces an education plan which includes expanding opportunities for students of color. Hopkins Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed is on board.

"There is a lot of power and opportunity in attaining a high-quality education and it’s our responsibility to right-size and transform our system," said Dr. Mhiripiri-Reed.

Kampfe says that she's in it for the long haul.

"I think this work will change the world, if we just do it," she says.

"Good Trouble Principals" was coined by the phrase often used by the late Congressman John Lewis, who said, "Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."