MREA announced today the schools and programs that earned the 2018 Profiles of Excellence for their innovation and ability to get results for students.

The honorees include:

  • Aitkin School District, Restaurant and Culinary Skills Academy
  • Kasson-Mantorville School District, Learning Innovation Grant Program
  • Marshall County Central School District, Outdoor Science Classroom

MREA will recognize these schools as an Awards Banquet on Nov. 12 on Cragun’s on the Lake near Brainerd.

MREA annually honors members with the Profile of Excellence Awards to recognize innovative programs and efforts that serve as an example of educational opportunities for rural students. Programs throughout MREA member districts are nominated and then selected by the MREA Board of Directors. Nominations open in the spring of each year and must be for that current school year.

Here’s a look at the 2018 honorees:

Aitkin School District

Restaurant and Culinary Skills Academy

Aitkin Schools’ Restaurant and Culinary Skills Academy allows students to acquire basic food preparation skills and information to understand the culinary industry. Students experience food preparation and presentation and gain an understanding of nutritional, health and legal issues related.

This program introduces students to careers such as chef, baker, caterer, and restaurant manager while following the Foundations of Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts. The highlight of the academy is a Model Restaurant where students apply skills learned by preparing food, tracking  daily clients and orders, and balancing finances at the end of the day.

Kasson-Mantorville School District

Learning Innovation Grant Program

The Learning Innovation Grant Program through Kasson-Mantorville School District provides opportunities each year for any PreK-12 instructor to gain funding to identify and explore opportunities that deepen student-teacher learning relationships, advance instruction, and promote student engagement through student choice and voice.

A team of educators review the applications and the program awards $50,000 in grants annually. Funded opportunities showcase staff who are driving high levels of learning through innovative concepts.

Program implementation has created positive learning environments for students with the percentage of achieving medium to high growth on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) growing over the past three years in math, reading, and with students who are at-risk.

Community partners include IBM, Benchmark Engineering, Rochester Area Builders, and McNeilus Steel who provide student opportunities as well as donated time and materials.

Marshall County Central School District

Outdoor Science Classroom

Marshall County Central District leaders met with officials from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to explore converting seven acres of unused school land to an outdoor prairie wetland restoration area. The resulting 10-year agreement has MCC science students working alongside Forest Service staff to reshape, seed and restore the land, including planting over 1,000 milkweed plants to support Monarch butterflies.

Students and the community can see how the native lands looked prior to settlement. It also is an important learning area for social studies, art, photography, and recreation. Most recently the Agassiz Audubon Society provided a solar-powered webcam to view bird feeders and bird nesting areas and access to a grant for binoculars for ecology students.

While many schools focus on technology and what they can do within walls to connect students and the world, this program educates students outside walls through a connection to nature and the local historical landscape.