Wayzata Public Schools


A highly-supported and easy-to-implement curriculum  successfully addresses the urgent need for mental health support among all students.


There is an urgent need to address mental health in schools. Recent stats show 80 percent of students report feeling stress often. Stressors have only mounted during the past two years.

In addition, school leaders nationwide have noted an increase in mental health symptoms, including:

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Disruptive behaviors
  • Decreased attendance
  • Unmotivated and disengaged students

Student support staff at Wayzata High School began noticing an uptick in stress, anxiety and depression among its 3,700 students even prior to the pandemic. Veteran school counselor, Debbie Kimlinger, recognized that students at the high-performing school west of Minneapolis, Minnesota needed an additional resource to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed as they learned to better manage classwork, personal goals and daily responsibilities.


EmpowerU semester courses are rooted in skill building, resilience and empowerment, making them a valuable option for all students.

By partnering with EmpowerU, Wayzata High School is able to expand capacity and reimagine how mental health could be addressed in their school. 

With minimal workload for school staff, thanks to EmpowerU’s turnkey program, vital, skill-building instruction was supported by highly-personalized, motivational coaching for each student, that was delivered with an abundance of care.

How did it work? Wayzata High School enrolled students in EmpowerU’s online elective course through Northern Star Online. Students earned high school credit while focusing on mental health and overall well-being. Aligned with state and national health education standards and CASEL standards, the course teaches important skills, such as stress-coping techniques, self-regulation, goal-setting, motivation and resiliency. Asynchronous coaching provides immediate feedback, celebrates small wins and motivates students to stay engaged.

Wayzata High School student, Natalie, completed the class as a sophomore and said it helped her to better manage depression and anxiety, as well as learn strategies to avoid procrastination. “I over-stress myself. Through EmpowerU,  I really learned to stop — notice what I was feeling and thinking — and replace it with a helpful thought that would help me meet my goal.” That’s what EmpowerU calls recruiting your inner coach to replace your inner critic.

Natalie said what was really different about this class is that her coach reached out and encouraged her every day.  “It was really different from other online classes. EmpowerU is the only online class I’ve taken where you have a very strong and supportive connection with the instructor— even stronger than many in-person classes.”

The SMART goals that Natalie set throughout the program allowed her to take small steps to solve larger problems — turning problems into progress.


Another benefit of EmpowerU is data.

Students and school staff receive progress updates via a tracking dashboard. Students use the data to measure their progress and schools can see the data-driven results. Staff also have access to the platform, which can spur future discussion about academic outcomes, as well as college, career and life readiness. Plus, school staff are alerted if students disengage.

Kimlinger added the course also helps Wayzata students boost confidence and ease stress, which can positively impact grades and attendance. “The students who I’ve been working with have shown improvements,” she said. “It certainly has impacted how they feel about each other and themselves. They learn some really valuable skills.”

Wayzata Student Outcomes Overall


of students made significant progress towards their goal


rated EmpowerU Daily Coaching as a factor of their progress/success


would reccomend the course to a friend

SOURCE:  EdWeek Webinar



The students who I’ve been working with have shown improvements. It certainly has impacted how they feel about each other and themselves. They learn some really valuable skills.”

Debbie Kimlinger
Lead Counselor, Wayzata High School


“Students say this is the class where the teachers and the coaches really care about you as a person.”

Debbie Kimlinger
Lead Counselor, Wayzata High School


“A majority, if not all of my friends, suffer from anxiety and depression. [EmpowerU] is a stepping stone into helping you cope with your own emotions.”

Junior, Wayzata High School



EmpowerU is powered by people, from our highly-trained coaches to our developers — and everyone in between. We partner with schools, and our online platform increases capacity of student services with proven Tier 2 targeted interventions and turnkey Tier 1 curriculum.

EmpowerU’s revolutionary approach to student success helps students increase resilience, persistence, motivation and success. As active participants in their wellness journey, students complete engaging, online lessons supported by daily 1:1 motivational coaching that fuel improved emotional wellbeing, school attendance, and grades. EmpowerU offers site-based licenses to schools and colleges, as well as access to the credit-bearing course through third-party online schools or direct from the company.