“We do our thing – but it’s always research-based.”

— Pete Routhier, principal

  • Brimley, Michigan
  • Grades K-6
  • Brimley Area Schools (ISD: Eastern Upper Peninsula)
  • Public
  • Rural
  • DTM awarded in 2014

School Overview

In a small, rural district just south of Canada and down the road from a Chippewa reservation where most of its American Indian students live, Brimley Elementary School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an example of a school that has improved, even within the confines of limited budgets and a remote location.

The school has invested time and energy into ensuring that teachers are not only able to collaborate with other teachers within the school but throughout the area, developing and sharing expertise about reading and math instruction. “We have some dedicated staff,” says Principal Pete Routhier, himself an alumnus of Brimley Elementary. “We do our thing – but it’s always research-based.”

Their work is paying off. Much higher percentages of Brimley’s American Indian students and students from low-income families are proficient or advanced than their counterparts in Michigan, which means they are closing achievement gaps with their more privileged peers.

Not that the school is satisfied. “There’s room for improvement,” Routhier says, as he and faculty members work on expanding their focus on science and social studies — and wish they could afford to hire an art teacher.

Updated 2014