Each year MREA recognizes leaders who are delivering results for schools in Greater Minnesota through its Educators of Excellence, Innovation, and Distinguished Service awards.

Educators of Excellence Award

MREA presents the Educator of Excellence Awards to recognize, reward, and promote excellence in education that achieves the highest outcomes for Greater Minnesota students. This award honors inspiring educators who demonstrate:

  • Positive impact on students and student achievement
  • Leadership in the school, district and community
  • Innovative and creative instructional practice that impact all students
  • Collaborative efforts with fellow educators, parents, families and the community

Nominate an Educator

Nominations are due Feb. 28, 2020. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574 or toll free at (833) MNVOICE.

Nominate an Educator

2019 Honorees


Jessica Strom

Math Teacher, Win-E-Mac Schools

Jessica Strom has flipped her high school math classroom to allow her students to become the problem solvers and teach one another. It’s been a lightbulb moment for her students and other educators who have seen it in action.

See her story

North Central

Ryan Larson

Dragon Academy Instructor, Pine City Public Schools

Ryan Larson started a new academy inside his school district’s middle and high schools to provide a new approach to inter-disciplinary learning. The results have been life-changing for students.

See his story


Tony McGee

Science Teacher, Plainview-Elgin-Milville Schools

Tony McGee teaches by walking around, asking good questions and engaging students in new, hands-on experiences once limited to schools in large metropolitan areas — like a mobile lab through a partnership with the Mayo Clinic.

See his story

South Central

Patrick Merrick

Science Teacher, Westbrook-Walnut Grove Schools

Patrick Merrick helps students learn what they thought they couldn’t. He believes in them and constantly develops new science classes and community projects to engage students. He brings science to life with his humor and applications.

See his story
View Past Award Recipients

Innovation Award

From Ada to Zumbrota, across Greater Minnesota, MREA wants to know about members’ programs that serve as examples of innovative educational opportunities for our rural students. What are the compelling practices or programs at your school or educational organization? Programs throughout MREA member districts are nominated and then selected by the MREA Board of Directors based on these core criteria:

  • Innovation — What made this program unique?
  • Benefit to Students — How did your students benefit from this program?
  • Collaboration — Who worked on developing this program with your school?
  • Ease of Adaptability — How can other districts replicate this program?

Nominate a Program

Nominations must be received by April 24, 2020. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Nominate a program

2019 Innovative Programs

Career Academies

Bemidji Public Schools

Students gain skills and credentials necessary to obtain local high-skilled employment without ever leaving the community. This is the only program like this in the state of Minnesota.

Learn More

Find the Kind Challenge

Lake Superior School District

Students in the Two Harbors High School DECA program wanted to create awareness on the positive impact kindness can have on mental health. They took to social media and organized on-site efforts. The results were profound.

Learn More
View Past Award Recipients

Distinguished Service Award

There are many leaders working behind the scenes and on the front lines to advocate for Greater Minnesota students and rural education. Each year, MREA recognizes one of these key leaders who has demonstrated contributions in one or more of the following areas:

  • Development of leadership potential of rural youth and adults in a rural district or region
  • Enhancement of rural community development
  • Support and assist in furthering the effectiveness of communications between local school districts and business/industry, governmental agencies, and/or institutions of higher education
  • Facilitation of sharing and partnerships among schools and between schools and the private sector
  • Support of legislation to enhance rural school/education
  • Recognition and support of exemplary practices and individuals
  • Promotion and advocacy of rural education
  • Leadership in the development of rural education-related conferences and workshops

Nominate an Individual

Deadline for entries is June 1, 2019. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Download Nomination Form

2019 Honorees

Jeremy Kovash & Dr. Boyd Bradbury

When the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) raised the credentialing standards for high school teachers to teach concurrent enrollment, Kovash and Bradbury collaborated to find a solution. They led a partnership between their two organizations Lakes Country Service Cooperative and Minnesota State University Moorhead along with the Northwest Service Cooperative.

The result is 18 Online, a graduate initiative for high school teachers in Minnesota to gain the 18 credits they need to teach concurrent enrollment under the new credentialing standards – for free. Since 2017, the program has served hundreds of teachers in all six economic regions in Minnesota and as of this fall, enabled teachers to earn nearly 1,700 credits.

Read More
View Past Award Recipients

Award-Related News