Lindsey Seavert is a Multiplying Good One in a Million Award recipient. She’s among the millions of people who are putting others first and using service as a solution to the problems we're facing. Read her story below then nominate someone who's making a difference during this unprecedented time!
One in a Million Award recipient: Lindsey Seavert
Where she’s multiplying good: Minnneapolis, Minnesota
How she’s multiplying good: She is One in a Million. Lindsey was a successful on-air reporter for the NBC affiliate - KARE-11 and with her partner - she created a documentary called Love Them First.
With unprecedented access over the course of a year, the Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary documentary follows the determination of a courageous north
Minneapolis school principal, Mauri Melander Friestleben, as she sets out to undo history.
Lucy Laney Elementary has been on the state’s failing list for more than two decades. An estimated 90 percent of its students are black and living below the poverty line in a state with the largest achievement gap between black and white students in the nation. But under Friestleben’s leadership, student test scores began to rise for the first time, an achievement that sparked curiosity in a KARE 11 reporter Lindsey Seavert.
Seavert discovered Lucy Laney Elementary while on assignment and embarked on a journey to provide greater context and depth into this often-misunderstood educational disparity within a neighborhood suffering from a narrative of poverty and violence.
After gaining permission from newsroom leaders, the Minneapolis school district, and Lucy Laney educators—all of them also taking a risk and saying ‘yes’—Seavert and photojournalist Ben Garvin embedded for one year with Lucy Laney students and staff, spending three days a week inside the school, filming with both staff and students.
The documentary project was a test of trust with the community. As white journalists covering a community of color, the team listened with intention and held diverse community focus groups to ensure it authentically represented north Minneapolis.
Seavert served as the film’s writer and co-director, and with Garvin, she captured remarkable moments, passion and endless well of unwavering hope. The 90-minute documentary that followed does not seek to solve the problem of the achievement gap, but rather it looks to empower others to raise critical questions and revolutionize education for children everywhere.
Love Them First has played before dozens of sold-out theatrical audiences, in front of lawmakers at the Minnesota State Capitol, broadcast across 35 television stations across the country and showcased at film festivals across the United States. It has received more than a dozen film festival awards nationwide and was the highest-grossing film in the 38-year history of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.
In January 2020, Love Them First received the honor of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award who described why the film was deserving of the award: “This gem of a documentary explored universal issues of race and poverty through the intimate portrait of a struggling elementary school and its inspiring principal,” the duPont-Columbia award jurors wrote.
The documentary continues to change the conversation among educators and citizens coast-to-coast, looking for best practices to teach children experiencing high stress and trauma.
Seavert is spearheading a social impact campaign around the documentary to spark systemic change as it already has been applied into collegiate educational curriculum, featured at national education conferences and utilized at countless education staff development workshops. To accommodate ongoing discussions nationwide, Seavert co-authored a free discussion guide is available at www.lovethemfirst.com to foster impactful, hopeful and even disruptive conversations in other communities facing educational gaps.
The documentary may be complete, but the real work has hardly begun.
The killing of George Floyd has brought Minnesota’s many racial equality gaps into the forefront and under needed scrutiny. The racial education gap is now a defining 21st century challenge as whites make up less than half of America’s K-12 students. Every community has a failing school.
When Seavert imagined Love Them First, she hoped it would showcase what is possible when we say ‘yes’, when we courageously, collectively choose love and hope and embrace all children as our own regardless of the zip code, test score, or lasting label.