The Regional Centers of Excellence

The purpose of the Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) is to meet a state obligation by providing differentiated supports to districts and schools through a statewide regional delivery system that is equitable, effective, and efficient.

Find out more about the Regional Centers of Excellence:

Watch a video by the Minnesota Department of Education about RCE or find the information about the team on the Minnesota Department of Education's website.

The Central Lakes Region (CLR) is a team comprised of educational professionals employed by Resource Training & Solutions. Schools advocates are licensed and experienced educational specialists who collaborate with district and school leaders, implementation teams, teacher teams, and staff to positively impact students, families, and communities.

Under the Minnesota No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the RCE CLR team provides differentiated support services, training, and coaching to 55 Minnesota designated “Priority” and “Focus” school leaders, leadership implementation teams, and teacher professional learning communities.

Today, that team provides support services to districts and schools identified and designated as lowest performing with regard to content proficiency, achievement gap reduction, language acquisition proficiency, high school graduation rates, and not meeting World’s Best Workforce Goals.

Specific RCE grant “Aims” have evolved from Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), NCLB, the Minnesota NCLB Waiver, World’s Best Workforce (WBWF), and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Given school identifications under ESSA or district identifications under WBWF legislation, the RCE priorities for providing differentiated support within Minnesota designated districts and schools are to coach:

  • equity throughout the educational experience of each student
  • school climate and culture conducive to learning
  • comprehensive needs assessment
  • Principals in turnaround principles
  • leadership implementation teams
  • professional learning communities
  • standards-based instruction, and
  • evidence-based strategies implementation.

RCE work in partnership with a core team from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Service Cooperatives (MSC) to attain the aims of the above priorities. Also, there are the RCE Advisory Committee and the MDE Cross-Agency Implementation Team (CAIT) that work collaboratively with RCE regional directors to guide the RCE statewide system of support implementation and fidelity.

The specific aims of the RCE are to increase the capacity within Minnesota’s:

  • lowest performing schools defined within the Minnesota Consolidated State Plan
  • high schools with low graduation rates, or
  • districts and charters not making progress toward WBWF goals.

The Regional Centers of Excellence has many helpful resources available for use.

If you have any questions about the Regional Centers of Excellence or the Central Lakes Regional team please contact Lowell Haagenson or call 320-255-3236.

headshot of Lowell Haagenson

Lowell Haagenson, Ed.D.

Director, Regional Centers of Excellence, Central Lakes Region

Lowell Haagenson, licensed superintendent, special education director, K-12 principal, and special education teacher (EBD). He earned his doctorate in educational administration and leadership at St. Cloud State University. He served in K-12 leadership positions with successful outcomes at elementary, middle, high school, and district levels. He presently leads the RCE CLR team of Minnesota licensed professionals. Contact Lowell Haagenson.

headshot of Kristil McDonald

Kristil McDonald

Education System Advocate

Kristil McDonald, education system advocate, has more than 35 years of experience as a teacher and administrator at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. She also has been involved in three Minnesota Department of Education projects involving technology integration, classroom behavioral management strategies, and assisting Minnesota schools in the integration of standards within their curriculum as an improvement support team member. School teams under her leadership have been recognized at both the state and national levels as a Minnesota STEM Integration Model School and National School of Distinction. She has a master's degree of science and educational administration specialist degree with licensures in K-12 principal, director of special education, and superintendent of schools. Contact Kristil McDonald.

headshot of Scott Fitzsimonds

Scott Fitzsimonds

Education System and Data Advocate

Scott Fitzsimonds, education system and data advocate, holds licenses in K-12 instrumental music, and as a K-12 principal. He earned his master's degree from St. Mary's University in teaching and learning. Prior to joining the RCE, Scott worked in public school education for 15 years—eight years as an instrumental music teacher, six years as a principal, and one year as director of teaching and learning. Additionally, Scott has served as an activities director, district assessment coordinator, technology integrationist, and data coach. Contact Scott Fitzsimonds.

headshot of Barbara Marchetti

Barbara Marchetti

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Barb Marchetti, special education advocate, has work that contributes to increasing student growth and proficiency while reducing Minnesota student-group achievement gaps. Barb's previous experience has been as a special education director and has taught special education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She has also served as an adjunct teacher for the University of St. Thomas, master's degree in special education program. She holds a director of special education and K-12 principal license. Contact Barbara Marchetti.

headshot of Kim Wingrove

Kim Wingrove

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Prior to joining the RCE team, Kim Wingrove, math advocate, was a junior high math teacher for 12 years and spent an additional two years as an instructional coach. During those 14 years, Kim worked on a multitude of district level committees and various curriculum committees. Kim holds licenses in teaching mathematics, grades 5-12, a master's degree in teaching and learning from St. Mary's University, and an Ed.S. in K-12 administration from the University of St. Thomas. Contact Kim Wingrove.

headshot of Sarah Sirna

Sarah Sirna

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Sarah Sirna, reading advocate, coaches with an equity focus. She has a passion for supporting leaders and teachers through adaptive challenges. She utilizes appreciative inquiry approaches to build school improvement teams that focus on creating equitable environments for students and staff. After serving five years as a classroom teacher, Sarah moved to the district level and has served in many leadership roles including EL coordinator and multicultural literacy coordinator in an office of equity and integration. In her most recent position before joining The Centers of Excellence, Sarah served as a literacy specialist, and data, instructional, and PBIS coach in an intermediate district ALC. Sarah is certified to administer the District Capacity Assessment, she holds a master’s degree in English language arts education, K-12 literacy specialist and principal license. Contact Sarah Sirna.

headshot of Gwen Anderson

Gwen Anderson

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Gwen Anderson, english language development advocate, taught EL and Spanish for 15 years in southern, metro, and central Minnesota. Within her schools, she has taught elementary through high school learners, and has also been an EL coordinator, migrant coordinator, staff development representative, and QComp leadership team member. In addition to being an adjunct instructor in English—TESL for five years at St. Cloud State University, Gwen is a certified trainer in SIOP and is nationally board certified in English as a new language. She has K-12 Spanish, English as a second language, principal, and superintendent licenses. She holds a master's degree in English—TESL and is a doctoral student in educational leadership and administration. Contact Gwen Anderson.

headshot of Amanda Tegels

Amanda Tegels

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Amanda Tegels, english language development advocate, has been a teacher at all levels, from Kindergarten to post-secondary. She has also gained much experience in leadership roles such as an EL coordinator, achievement and integration specialist, and migrant specialist.Amanda is passionate about creating new or adaptive programming to better serve all students. She  created an alternative learning program and adapted EL programs to fit the needs of traditionally marginalized students. Her experience spans three states, and she has an interest in the cultural aspects of education. Amanda holds a bachelor's of arts degree in Spanish from Minnesota State University Moorhead, a master's of arts degree in teaching English as a second language from St. Cloud State University, and an Ed.S. from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Her licenses include K-12 principal, community education director, K-12 ESL, and K-12 Spanish. In her spare time, Amanda likes to camp, hike, listen to books while out for a run, and spend time with her husband and four children. Contact Amanda Tegels.

headshot of Julie Mitchell

Julie Mitchell

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Julie Mitchell, reading advocate. Students motivate Julie to support excellence and equity in learning environments and pathways to success for all in the school setting. In her previous experience, Julie was an elementary and middle school general education and special education classroom teacher. She has also served as an instructional facilitator, Title I coordinator, curriculum and instruction director, and as an adjunct professor for the University of New Mexico. She has been a member of state committees addressing standards and literacy practices and holds licenses in both administration and teaching with accompanying reading and English language endorsements. Julie earned a masters in elementary education and an Ed.S. in administration from the University of New Mexico. Contact Julie Mitchell

headshot of Hillary Johnson

Hillary Johnson

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Prior to joining the RCE team, Hillary Johnson, math advocate, was a high school math teacher for 15 years. During that time, she was a district math interventionist, a SIOP sheltered math instructor, and served on many district and school level committees. Hillary holds a teaching license in 5-12 mathematics, a master's degree in math education from the University of Minnesota, and is currently pursuing a license in K-12 administration from St. Cloud State University. Contact Hillary Johnson.

headshot of Jen Andrews van Horne

Jen Andrews van Horne

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Prior to joining the RCE team, Jen van Horne, english language advocate, taught third grade in a large urban district, was the program director for a Pre-K through grade 12 non-profit English learner children’s program, and spent the last 11 years as the EL coordinator and lead teacher for two local charter schools. In addition to teaching and coordinating, Jen spends her time in schools leading professional learning communities and providing professional development for staff, family, and community engagement opportunities. She is dual licensed in both elementary education and English as a second language. Jen holds a master's of education degree from the University of Minnesota. Contact Jen Andrews van Horne.

Amy Nolte

Amy Nolte

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Amy Nolte, math advocate, holds licenses in K-6 elementary education and 5-8 mathematics. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the RCE team, Amy worked as a middle school mathematics teacher and an elementary mathematics specialist. Additionally, Amy has been an educational consultant for an education software company, a test development specialist, and partnered with school districts to provide K-12 math and equity professional development and coaching. Contact Amy Nolte

Jennifer Klein

Jennifer Klein

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Jennifer Klein, special education and school advocate. She has thirty years of experience as an educator and administrator working with students who have special needs. Her focus areas include inner city programming and service delivery, PDPLC development, human rights and due process advocacy,organizational change facilitation and student teacher development. She holds a B.S. in Special Education from University of Central Florida, a M.A. in Special Education from University of St. Thomas and an Ed.S. from Concordia University in Educational Leadership. She enjoys supporting her husband and four daughters with their many athletic endeavors in addition to her thirty-year coaching career and is a member of the parent advisory board at Endicott College and the University of Mississippi. Contact Jennifer Klein

Jean Duffy

Jean Duffy Ed.D.

Regional Centers of Excellence Advocate

Jean Duffy, educational administration advocate, holds a bachelor's and master’s degree from Southwest Minnesota State University and earned her doctorate in educational administration and leadership from St. Cloud State University. She is a licensed superintendent, K-12 principal, K-12 reading specialist, elementary and pre-kindergarten teacher. Prior to joining the RCE team, she served as an assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and instruction for nine years. She has also served as literacy coordinator, Title I Coordinator, reading specialist, and pre-primary teacher. Her dissertation research examined the effective implementation of an RTI/ MTSS framework. She is passionate about reading instruction, social emotional learning, and the development of effective school district systems designed to support principals and teachers in their work. Contact Jean Duffy