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.

View video of 2018 awards ceremony.

Nominate an Educator

Nominations for Educators of Excellence are closed for 2019Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574 or toll free at (833) MNVOICE.

Nominations Closed

2018 Honorees


Lois Lewis

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, South Koochiching Rainy River Schools

A combination of passion and networking have enabled Lois Lewis to provide students in a quaint rural school with unexpected opportunities, including the National Restaurant Association ProStart restaurant program.

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North Central

Lisa Coborn

Area Learning Center Coordinator, Park Rapids Public Schools

Park Rapids High School leaders wanted to reach students who might not have supports to make it in a traditional high school environment and to help them earn a diploma. Lisa Coborn was the answer.

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Bob Bonin

Welding Academy Teacher, Fairmont Area Schools

Bob Bonin has built a Welding Academy to meet a critical need for workers in his community. It has grown to serve not only middle and high school students in his school district, but others across the region.

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South Central

Tyler Warren

Agriculture Teacher at Eden Valley-Watkins High School

Since joining the Eden Valley-Watkins team, Tyler Warren has led the addition of a series of new classes and programs to equip students for their future careers, including a state-approved apprenticeship program.

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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?
  • Collaboration — Who worked on developing this program with your school?
  • Ease of Adaptability — How can other districts replicate this program?

View video of 2018 awards ceremony.

Nominate a Program or Practice

Deadline for entries is  April 3, 2019. Winning programs will be recognized at MREA’s Annual Conference Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Nominate a program

2018 Exemplary Programs

Restaurant & Culinary Skills Academy

Aitkin Public Schools

A desire to teach students basic food preparation skills and allow them to explore potential career opportunities led Aitkin High School to develop a Restaurant and Culinary Skills Academy.

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Learning Innovation Grant Program

Kasson-Mantorville School District

Kasson-Mantorville School District developed a Learning Innovation Grant Program to provide up to $50,000 in grants for PreK-12 instructors interested in exploring ways to deepen relationships with students, advance instruction and increase student achievement.

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Outdoor Classroom

Marshall County Central Public Schools

A lot can be learned in the outdoors. A partnership between Marshall County Central Public Schools and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing students to step into nature to learn everything from science and math to social students, art and photography.

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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

View video of 2018 awards ceremony.

Nominate an Individual

Deadline for entries is June 1, 2019. 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

2018 Honoree

Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter

For over a decade, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter has been a dynamic voice in the education field, working to prepare future teachers and to advocate for new programs to meet needs for K-12 schools across Minnesota.

As a professor at Southwest Minnesota State University and leader on a variety of state education boards, she’s known for her innovative thinking, collaborations with multiple organizations and elevating the field of teaching.

Among her most recent accomplishments was her visioning to create and gain legislative approval for a para-to-teacher program as a non-traditional pathway for mid-career individuals to join the profession.

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View Past Award Recipients

Award-Related News

一 Awards
November 5, 2017

MREA Honors Erickson, Pratt with Distinguished Service Award

Effectively staffing Greater Minnesota schools with teachers took a significant step forward this past year…
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