MREA each year recognizes leaders who are delivering results for schools in Greater Minnesota through its Educators of Excellence, Profiles of Excellence 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
  • View eligibility and nominate.

Nominate an Educator

Nominations for 2017 Educators of Excellence must be received by April 14, 2017.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Nominate an Educator

2016 Honorees


Jackie Chwialkowski

Third grade teacher at Stephen-Argyle Central Schools

Mrs. Jackie Chwialkowski has developed extended learning programs that reach beyond the school walls at Stephen-Argyle Central. These programs involve making blankets for homeless shelters, sending care boxes to military personnel overseas and a horticulture curriculum where students grow and sell garden plants…

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North Central

Chris Dobis

Third grade teacher at Pierz Public Schools

Mr. Dobis has had a significant impact on student achievement at Pioneer Elementary in Pierz, where he has taught third grade for the last three years. Pioneer has become a 1:1 device school. Principal Tom Otte attributes this largely to Mr. Dobis’ willingness to lead the technology initiative in a manner that increases…

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Brenda Whitehead

High school math teacher at Murray County Central Schools

Mrs. Whitehead believes in and practices innovation and creativity in her classroom every day. One of her most innovative teaching styles has been the “flipped classroom.” In this method, students watch a video prepared by Mrs. Whitehead before…

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South Central

Jamie Madson

Teacher and STEM Curriculum Integration Coordinator at Rockford Area Schools

Rain and straw bale gardens. A school vineyard. A DNR-approved school forest. Those are just a few of the interactive learning environments that Rockford Middle School students have the opportunity to explore thanks to the leadership and innovation of a teacher…

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View Past Award Recipients

Profile of Excellence 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?
  • Collaborative Effort — What other individuals, groups and/or agencies worked on developing this program?
  • Ease of Adaptability — How can other districts replicate this program?

Nominate a Program or Practice

Deadline for entries is Friday, June 16, 2017. Winning programs will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Download Nomination Form

Recent Winners

2016 Exemplary Program

Flyer Video Production

Little Falls Community Schools

After recognizing a trend in video consumption, Little Falls school leaders implemented a program that produced over 250 newscasts and 100 events in the past year. Students, faculty, parents and community members are able to enjoy high-quality, well-produced events and news from the entire school district.

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2016 Honorable Mention

Community Bond Referendum

Deer River Public Schools

Deer River Schools Superintendent Matt Grose had a vision and spearheaded a bond referendum that passed with a remarkable 68 percent rate. Instead of focusing solely on the enrollment growth straining the elementary school, Grose expanded his vision to include the needs of the community as a whole. He involved stakeholders from varying constituencies to help make this dream a reality.

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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 Friday, June 16, 2017. Winning programs will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Download Nomination Form

Recent Honoree

Senator Leroy A. Stumpf

DFL District 01 Minnesota Senate

MREA honors Senator LeRoy Stumpf for his enormous contribution to the betterment of rural education in Minnesota. From championing all-day kindergarten, sparsity and general education revenue, Sen. Stumpf was there to ensure equitable funding for rural children.

A farmer by trade, Senator LeRoy Stumpf was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1980 and then to the Minnesota State Senate in 1982. He spent much of his legislative career working to better the K-12 and Higher Education systems and leading the related committees.

While largely unnoticed by many, it was Sen. Stumpf who fought for state law requiring that school aid payments, when shifted during recessions, be automatically repaid when budget forecasts returned to surplus. This may seem like an esoteric accomplishment, but the importance of this legislation to the long-term stability of K-12 funding can’t be overstated.

More recently, Sen. Stumpf had the vision to call for a state task force charged with delving into school facility financing. His forethought to look into this issue produced Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue and efforts to create a fairer state share of school facility costs through proposed programs like Ag2School and improved Debt Service Equalization.

View Past Award Recipients

Award-Related News

一 Awards
May 22, 2017

Minnesota Teacher Nominated for National Honor

Chris Dobis, a 2016 MREA Educator of Excellence, has been nominated for the National Rural…
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