Northern Lights Academy

Message from the Director of Special Education, Dena Hagen: 7/9/20

Dear NLA Families and Staff,

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer so far!  It is a great opportunity to breathe in some fresh air and sunshine, and breathe out the stress you may be feeling during this unprecedented time.

As Ms. Mackey let you know, we are ready for an ESY program for those eligible students to start next week, back in the Garfield school building.  We established a hybrid plan for summer (see description below) and because of the small number of students attending, it allows us to have all students come in person every day of ESY.   Please click on these links here for the NLA full summer plan for 2020 and an accompanying 2020 ESY booklet for families.

We are also busy planning for students and staff to start school in the fall, which will look different to keep students, staff, and families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Schools are required to plan for three possible scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year:

1) In-Person Instruction- All students return to the building using social distancing measures
2) Hybrid - A combination of in person and distance learning with strict distancing and building capacity limits
3) Distance Learning - no students in the building, improving upon the system we had in place for Spring 2020

The Minnesota Department of Education will determine which scenario Minnesota schools will begin with this fall, sometime during the week of July 27 and we have been told to also prepare to "turn the dial" between more or less restrictive models during the school year, in response to the level of community spread of COVID-19.  

The Northern Lights Academy has also applied for federal CARES Act funding for our school.  Both the GEER (Governor's Education Emergency Relief) and the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) funds will help us work to equitable education for all Northern Lights Academy students, especially in the area of technology and mental health.

We know that the unknown is placing significant strain on families and will share information as soon as it is available to help with your planning. We appreciate your understanding as we work to develop the best plans for meeting each of our students’ needs while also meeting the expectations set by MDE and MDH.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the NLA office or send an email to Barb Mackey or call me at 218-655-5018 or email me at

Thank you for your continued support!
Dena Hagen
Director of Special Education

NLA School Closure and Distance Learning Plan (updated May 5, 2020)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Employee Rights Poster

302 14th Street
Cloquet, MN 55720
fax: 218-878-3061

Barb Mackey x8000, Assistant Special Education Director (
Emily Brown x8004, Special Education Teacher (
Amelia Calverley x8006, Direct 878-3062, Special Education Teacher (
Morgan Warbalow x8005, Special Education Teacher (
Lisa Dalbec x8004, Social Worker (
   x8001, Administrative Assistant (
Caleb Komarek x8003, EBD Teacher (

Mission Statement

The Northern Lights Academy (NLA) mission is to support children and youth with significant emotional and behavioral needs, as well as those with low incidence disabilities. We provide academic, social and functional skill development, and mental health services to students from the member school districts of The Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative.

Our goal is to foster learning, promote independence, cultivate social and behavior skills, work in partnerships with families, and support students to become successful learners in their least restrictive environment, as well as active, productive members of our communities.

2019-20 School Year Information

For the 2019-20 school year, the NLA will offer Setting 4 Special Education programs for up to 34 students in grades K-8, who need an alternative educational placement. Contact your school's principal for more information.

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