last rebuilt

Home of the Chieftains

Welcome to Minnehaha Elementary School! We are a thriving school where students can learn, think, grow, share, create and discover. Our excellent staff is invested in helping children succeed. And families have opportunities to be involved and engaged through the Minnehaha Elementary PTA and our Family-Community Resource Center.

Our mission reflects our commitment to students and families: Through diverse learning experiences, Minnehaha students will become lifelong learners who will be competent, positive, responsible citizens, prepared for an ever-changing society.

A strong community, student body and staff make Minnehaha a great place to learn, spend time and work.

We follow five core beliefs:


  • The entire staff is committed to collaboration, including sharing effective teaching and learning practices, meeting weekly for planning and discussing student progress regularly.
  • Each staff member is responsible for all students.
  • Quality volunteers are recruited, trained and retained. We value partnerships with local businesses, schools and other organizations.


  • We have established strong support for student success and involvement from within our school community. This support includes TRIBE, family literacy nights and other school evening events, pride assemblies, Golden Pencil, Chieftain bucks, school jobs and peer mediators.

High expectations

  • High expectations exist for staff members and all students. We believe that high expectations are critical to creating an environment conducive to learning and success for all.
  • Lifelong learning is continually demonstrated by all staff through ongoing professional development.
  • High expectations for continuous improvement contribute to a culture in which the staff pushes itself to meet the needs of students.
  • Students are involved and take active roles in their own learning. (Examples include self-evaluation on rubrics, charting individual progress on math and reading skills and student-led conferences.)

Readiness to learn

  • Students’ basic needs (for example, food, appropriate clothing and health care) are met outside of school.
  • Student self-esteem is promoted by all staff through things such as pride assemblies and ongoing recognition for academic and behavioral success.
  • Support for parents as our educational partners is provided through newsletters, family nights and PTA events, as well as through appropriate referrals for health and social services if requested.

Student learning

  • All students are capable of learning and making academic growth in their own ways, at their own pace.
  • Assessment and other forms of data are considered in the development of effective teaching strategies for each student.
  • We work toward closing the achievement gap by identifying students not reaching standards and using best practices to raise their level of performance.
  • Parent/home support for student learning is critical to ensure that each child will be a successful learner.

In 1891, The Vancouver Evening Columbian used the name Minnehaha, derived from Sioux and Dakota words and made famous in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to describe the beautiful area and stream near where our school then stood.

Although the first Minnehaha school was built in 1865, it did not become part of Vancouver Public Schools until 1945, due to expanding enrollment as a result of the boom in local work opportunities during World War II.

Not long after becoming part of the district, the school was rebuilt, in 1949. That building stood for 50 years, until it was replaced in 1999 to ease overcrowding.

Pioneering new programs and ideas has long been one of our hallmarks. We were one of just four VPS elementary schools selected in 2000 to pilot a transitional first-grade program for students needing extra support after kindergarten. Two years later, we were named a national exemplary site for our Help One Student To Succeed structured mentoring program in language arts.

In 2004, we became a Summer Literacy Academy site, helping students improve their reading skills. A new Head Start preschool program opened in 2008. And in 2009, we received an Energy Star Award for energy efficiency from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.

Our Family-Community Resource Center debuted in 2012, giving families a place where they can spend time engaged in the school, as well as receive assistance with things like basic necessities.

Bullying prevention has been a focus in recent years, helped by the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. We continue to promote respect among students and staff members.