One year. One principal.
One heartbreaking setback as her struggling elementary school
fights to get off "the list."
With unprecedented access over the course of a year, Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary follows the determination of a charismatic north Minneapolis school principal, Mauri Melander Friestleben, as she sets out to undo history. Not only does Minnesota have the largest achievement gap between black and white children in the United States, Friestleben faced another seemingly impossible obstacle, with Lucy Laney at the bottom of the state's list of underperforming schools for two decades. Under Friestleben's leadership, standardized test scores from most black students began rising for the first time, but when the school encounters a heartbreaking setback, Friestleben is forced to confront the true measure of student success at Lucy Laney. It's a story of inspiration, heartbreak, perseverance and the power of love.
Lindsey Seavert • Director/Producer/Writer
Ben Garvin • Director/Producer/Director of Photography/Editor
Janeen Vogelaar • Executive Producer
Melody Gilbert • Producer
Charlie McCarron • Lead Composer
Cornbread Harris • Composer/Jazz Musician
Jesse Marks • Sound Mix
Pam Colby • Story Consultant
Chris Chiabotti • Colorist
Channel Z • Post-Production Services
Travis Kobs • Drone Pilot and Assistant Editor
David Mahlman • Art Direction
To Jane Helmke for saying yes.
To Mauri Friestleben for never saying no.
To the entire Lucy Laney Elementary Staff and Students, who let us in and trusted us with their stories.
To the MINNEAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, for their generous support and commitment to all students and staff.
To KARE 11’S General Manager JOHN REMES for his unwavering support.
To KARE 11’s STUART BOSLOW, STACEY NOGY, LAUREN OLSON, and JEFF WILTGEN for creating the space to innovate.
To LYNN BEALL, Executive Vice President and COO of Media Operations, and to TEGNA MEDIA for seeing value in the power of storytelling and the impact of extraordinary people in our communities.