Several Saint Mary’s University Graduate School of Education alumni recently earned prestigious awards in their field — the most notable being Michelle Krell M’98, an administrator with Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools who was named the 2014 National Distinguished Principal (NDP) for Minnesota.

The NDP award, established in 1984 by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA), “honors exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set the pace, character and quality of education children receive during their early school years” according to the MESPA website. One NDP principal is chosen in each state, and Krell was recognized, in part, for her skills in communication, leadership and collaboration.

“I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and have made it my life mission to empower those around me to make a positive impact each day,” Krell said. “My leadership style is built on creating trusting relationships with all stakeholders and instilling an understanding that it takes all of us, in partnership, to raise successful students and citizens. When schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children succeed both in and out of the classroom.”

The other two finalists for the NDP award — Jennifer Olson and Peter Hardy — also studied at Saint Mary’s. Additionally, five alumni principals and their schools were highlighted by the Minnesota School of Excellence Validation, and another nine received MESPA Division Leadership Awards. Five alumni also received honors from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP).

Another awards program recognizing excellence in education, at least in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, is the KS95 Teacher of the Week. Of the 31 awards presented by the radio station this school year, nine went to Saint Mary’s alumni.

Here’s the list of alumni who recently earned excellence in education awards:

National Distinguished Principal finalists

  • Jennifer Olson (Humphrey Elementary)
  • Peter Hardy (Keewatin Elementary)
  • Michelle Krell (Kasson-Mantorville Elementary)

Minnesota School of Excellence Validations

  • Merry Tilleson (Lake Harriet Community School)
  • Jan Parrish (Lake Harriet Community School)
  • Kris Harlan (Maple Lake Elementary)
  • John Huttemier (Waseca Central Intermediate)
  • Jen Olson (Winstead Elementary)

MESPA Division Leadership Awards

  • Curt Carpenter (Clear Spring Elementary)
  • Laura Cavener (Pillsbury Community School)
  • Mark Drommerhausen (Lily Lake Elementary)
  • Shelia Flatau (Viking Elementary)
  • Mark Hansen (Mississippi Elementary)
  • Wade Labatte (Oak Hills Elementary)
  • Sharon Schultz (Middle River Elementary)
  • Rae Villebrun (Cold Spring Elementary)
  • Jean Weis-Clough (Avon Elementary)

MASSP Division Middle Level Principals of the Year

  • Dan Voce (Princeton Middle School)
  • Brian Zambreno (Richfield Middle School)

MASSP Division Assistant Principals of the Year

  • Daniel Adams (Robert J. Elkington Middle School)
  • Darren Nelson (Waseca High School)
  • Jeremy Williams (Marshall High School)

Teacher of the Week award winners

  • Heather Cotter (Andover Elementary)
  • Caren Hudak (Redtail Ridge Elementary)
  • Theresa Wold (Burroughs Elementary)
  • Steve Wright (Convent of the Visitation School)
  • Roberta Kunkel (Sioux Trail Elementary)
  • Jennifer Wisnew (Bethune Community School)
  • Norma Jorgensen (Chelsea Heights Elementary)
  • Marcia Ritter (JFK Elementary)
  • Kelly Roche (St. Joseph School)
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