Education Promotes Innovation

We offer education services to school districts in the Arrowhead Region of Northeast Minnesota. From professional development for educational leaders to Knowledge Bowl competition for students, education is an important service. The education programs are led by skilled staff who are committed to providing quality training and resources to our members. We understand the significance of making an impact for the students in our region.

Student Programs, Online Learning, Regional Center of Excellence, and Professional Development programs are strong at Northeast Service Cooperative. Don’t hesitate to contact our department leaders and get connected with one of our educational opportunities today. Executive Director Paul Brinkman has worked with school administrators during his tenure to promote education as a valuable service for the school districts in our region. He leads the education team initiatives that impact classroom learning and provide quality training efforts for our educators.

Our Board of Directors, the majority who serve on school district boards, have carried out their passion for this topic while serving. Their insight and care for the children in our region to receive a high-quality education is evident in their roles. The Northeast Service Cooperative has been serving school districts for more than four decades.

We’re Preparing our Students to be Lifelong Learners

2023-2024 Reach for the Stars Catalog Now Available

Looking to ignite your students’ passion for learning? Explore the 2023-2024 Reach for the Stars catalogue with more than 120 high-quality academic enrichment programs, competitions, events and activities for Minnesota K-12 students!

It is available as a FREE download either as a full-color or text-only PDF at: 2023-24 Reach for the Stars catalog

MSC Online Learning

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The Minnesota Service Cooperatives Online Learning Program (MSC Online) provides online learning options for rural and urban students throughout Minnesota. The MSC Online program represents an innovative solution to providing high-quality, cost-effective online learning opportunities for students who have scheduling conflicts in their home district, need credit recovery, or need access to advanced, additional, or specialized courses in a flexible learning environmental. It is a supplemental program, so students remain enrolled in their own districts while taking their online courses. MSC Online utilizes rich multi-media curriculum from several vendors. The courses are delivered using Moodle as the learning management system. All of our courses are aligned with national and state standards. There are also a large number of elective courses that are typically not available to students in rural districts, such as several World Languages and extensive Career and Technical Education courses for Business and Technology certifications.

MSC Online Learning Program:

  • The MSC Online Learning Community provides an online learning system and professional development for students and school districts around the state.
  • The program represents an innovative, collaborative solution to providing high-quality, cost-effective opportunities for online teaching and learning for students in grades 7 through 12.
  • MSC Online has become an effective collaborative resource for districts, educators and students to explore the benefits of online learning.
  • Is certified by the Minnesota Department of Education to offer online curriculum to students in grades 7-12. All online courses offered through approved programs are:
    • Taught by Minnesota licensed teachers
    • Meet or exceed state academic standards
    • Transfer to other public school districts
    • Apply toward high school graduation credits

Student Programs

The Academic Enrichment Programs coordinated by Northeast Service Cooperative in Northeastern Minnesota provide the necessary challenges and motivation to benefit students both academically and emotionally. Student participation in these programs also serve as an activity or strategy to support the goals and action plans developed within their districts. We continue to grow as a result of increased interest in the stability and success of our regional programs available to Northern Minnesota school districts.

  • Knowledge Bowl

    Academic Challenge Program for Students

    • Minnesota Service Cooperative Knowledge Bowl competitions are interdisciplinary academic contests designed for secondary high school students in grades 7 to 12. We also have regional competitions for elementary students in grades 5-6! Depending on the grade division, teams of 4-6 individuals demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills in both oral and written formats. Students field challenging questions developed from over 15 curriculum areas. Northern Minnesota students can participate in a number of ways, such as computer operators, scorekeepers and team competitors.
    • Northeast Service Cooperative is proud to host Knowledge Bowl at our office building in Mountain Iron, Minnesota. This academic program gives students across Northern Minnesota an opportunity to compete throughout the school year. The top teams in our school districts get a chance to go on and compete at region tournaments.

    Elementary Knowledge Bowl

    An Elementary Knowledge Bowl team consists of six team members that compete during all the rounds, with one person appointed spokesperson. The season runs October to November with teams attending three meets. Top teams advance to a region tournament in November.  Elementary meet consists of one written round and three oral rounds. At the region competition, tie-breaker questions are used. Power ranking is the method of scoring.

    Junior High Knowledge Bowl / Junior Varsity Knowledge Bowl

    A Junior High Knowledge Bowl team consists of six team members. Only five members compete during the oral rounds. One member of each team is appointed spokesperson. The season runs October through November. Teams attend three meets, and the top teams advance to a region tournament held in November. Regular season junior high meets power rank one written round and three oral rounds. At the region competition, four oral rounds are used, along with tie-breaker questions.

    Senior High Knowledge Bowl

    A Senior High Knowledge Bowl team consists of five team members with four competing during oral rounds. One member of each team is appointed spokesperson. The season runs January through March. Teams attend three meets (typically one meet per month), and the top teams in each of our two tiers advance to region tournaments held in March. Six regional winners (three in each tier) advance to the state competition in April.  Regular season senior high meet consists of one written round and four oral rounds. At the region and state competitions, five oral rounds are used, along with tie-breaker questions. A Strength of Scoring power ranking is the method of scoring used in our region and the state competition.

    Knowledge Bowl Coaches:


    Junior High:

    Junior Varsity:

    Senior High:

    Knowledge Bowl Schedules:

    All divisions attend three regular season meets and top teams advance to regional tournaments.

    All competitions are power ranked and are held at:
    Northeast Service Cooperative
    5525 Emerald Avenue
    Mountain Iron, MN  55768

  • Spelling Bee

    Students Spelling their way to Success

    There is a hush in the room as a student carefully spelled out the word for the moderator. Her palms were sweaty as she carefully and thoughfully finished spelling the word. The crowd leaned forward in anticipation look to the judge to see if she was successful in her feat. “That is correct,” the moderator said. The grin widened for the student who had just successfully spelled a more difficult word. This is a typical scene that occurs as students from across the region spell their way to victory.

    The Spelling Bee is a student program offered to students from member school districts. Northern Minnesota students are challenged to demonstrate their spelling skills with an opportunity to advance to state and nationals. This program has students on their toes as they spell their way to success. This long-standing education program offered at Northeast Service Cooperative is a multi-player exercise for spelling words provided by a moderator. It allows students to utilize their abilities to spell in a group setting. Students first participate in classroom, school and/or district levels, then expand to competing against other area school districts by advancing to the Regional Spelling Bee. The winners at the regional level go to a Multi-Regional State Bee for a chance to advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

    Schools must register with both Scripps and the Northeast Service Cooperative for Region Bee advancement opportunities.

    Spelling Bee Resources

    The date for the 2024 Region Spelling Bee will be February 13, 2024!

    The Region 3 Spelling Bee Competition is hosted at:
    Northeast Service Cooperative
    5525 Emerald Avenue
    Mountain Iron, MN  55768

    Map to NESC

    Schools that wish to participate in the NESC Region 3 Spelling Bee must also be registered with Scripps.

Regional Centers of Excellence

Minnesota’s Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) deliver a wealth of support and services straight to schools–and it’s working.  Centers are staffed by specialists with a full range of expertise, including math, reading, special education, English language development, equity, graduation support, data analysis, school leadership, and district support.

For districts or charters with schools identified under the accountability system, the RCEs provide on-the-ground assistance to districts or charters and schools to create the capacity and conditions that support change and continuous improvement.  The Centers partner with leadership teams to facilitate school improvement efforts focused on equity for underserved student groups.

Once designated, comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) and targeted support and improvement (TSI) schools must conduct a needs assessment, build, and strengthen leadership teams, and develop continuous improvement plans, but they don’t have to go it alone.  The schools can get help from Minnesota’s Regional Centers of Excellence. In addition to content expertise, Center specialists offer an outside perspective on schools’ efforts to increase student outcomes.

Northern Pines Region

Northeast Service Cooperative in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, is home to the Northern Pines Regional Center of Excellence, which is an initiative through the Minnesota Department of Education. There are six Regional Centers located in Thief River Falls, Mountain Iron, Fergus Falls, St. Cloud, Marshall, and Rochester.

If you have any questions about the Regional Centers of Excellence or the Northern Pines Regional team, please contact Tara Lindstrom, or call (218) 410-8111.

  • Tara Lindstrom – RCE Director & Education Services Senior Director
  • Gina Cole – RCE Advocate
  • Lisa Grundstrom – RCE Education System Support
  • Terri Huttel – RCE Advocate
  • Amy Maki – RCE Advocate
  • Jonelle Mellstrom – RCE Education System Support
  • Renae Nesburg-Busse – RCE Principal Leadership Support


  • Tara LindstromDirector, Regional Center of Excellence
  • Kijo PulfordCoordinator, Student Services
  • Russ DavidsonMath Specialist