Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary School


Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has a great story to tell, and over the course of the 2017-18 school year, allowed KARE11 news unprecedented access into our neighborhood Lucy Craft Laney Community School to help share the realities of education in an urban school district. What started as a series of news stories on Lucy Laney morphed into a documentary, Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary School, chronicling the ups and downs of life in our Northside elementary school.

“This film offers a raw and real look into the experiences found in many of our schools,” said Superintendent Ed Graff. “Our students, staff, and families are brilliant and bring so much to our schools each day. There’s a lot of work that goes into meeting each of their unique needs, and we hope this film helps showcase that while starting important conversations about what it means to educate all children, everywhere.”

Lucy Laney Principal Mauri Friestleben echoed Graff’s sentiments. While acknowledging the film focused on her school, she sees it reflecting all MPS schools and believes the film has power to be a vehicle for change.

“There are so many broken things about education as we know it in America. And yet there are so many beautiful things, as well,” said Friestleben. “It is our collective hope and deepest desire that this film encapsulates the breadth and depth of both. It is our hope this film gives a glimpse into the heart and soul of the dedicated and persistent and resilient and passionate educators in Minneapolis Public Schools and beyond. It is our hope Minneapolis sees this film as not Lucy Laney’s story—but the story of us all.”

Love Them First was screened at the Capri Theater and St. Anthonly Main Theaters in mid-April during the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Lucy Laney Principal Friestleben says, “It has been requested by various groups to add screenings. The [film’s] producers have created a website ( and are receiving screening requests, exchanging info and updating additional screenings there. They are planning a screening for Laney families and extended families before school is out [date/place TBD].”

For more info about the Love Them First documentary, including future screening venues and scheduling, visit Learn more about Lucy Laney at, and more about MPS at