Two Greater Minnesota schools received a state innovation award for developing and implementing programs that are getting results for students. MREA announced today that programs at Bemidji Public Schools and Lake Superior Public Schools have been named the 2019 Profile of Excellence honorees.

MREA awards Profiles of Excellence each year to recognize innovative programs that serve as an example of educational opportunities for rural students. MREA will honor the 2019 recipients at an Awards Banquet on Nov. 18 at Cragun’s on the Lake in Brainerd. Register to attend.

Programs throughout Greater Minnesota are nominated and then selected by the MREA Board of Directors for their innovation, benefit to students, collaboration and ease of adaptability. Nominations open in the spring of each year and must be for that current school year. Learn more.

Career Academies


The Bemidji Career Academies is the only career academy program of its type in the state of Minnesota. The goal of the academies is to equip students with the skills necessary to obtain high-skilled employment while staying in the community. Rather than sending students out of the community to attend college, perhaps never to return, the Bemidji Career Academies seeks to partner with local businesses, agencies and schools so that students can find an opportunity to earn a vocational certificate or diploma without leaving Bemidji.

Through community collaboration and intentional coursework design, Bemidji Career Academies allow students the opportunity to thrive in today’s workforce while staying in Bemidji and becoming productive income earners contributing to the economy of the Bemidji area.

The Bemidji Career Academies has grown to serve 450 high school student through 18 academies, thanks to the district’s collaborations with over 40 community partners. The program has helped increased attendance, engagement and achievement of participating students, reduced disciplinary incidents and improved graduation rates.

Find the Kind Challenge


Two Harbors High School DECA program developed an initial social media challenge to create awareness on the positive impact kindness has on mental health. The campaign reminded students, staff and community members how they treat each other matters and encouraged them to take simple steps like say hello, open doors, carry groceries, buy a cup of coffee or move tables in the lunch room so students were no longer left out. The focus was to not miss an opportunity to be intentional and kind.

The students brought the campaign into the schools through a series of visible efforts. They created a wall of kindness where students posted notes about the kindness they saw in others on a paper brick. They made “ kindness jars” for the teachers in the classrooms and when teachers saw kids doing small acts of kindness they thanked them and let them pick out a treat from the kindness jar. Before heading to the Capitol in January, the DECA students collected over 700 blankets in four days and brought them to the Dorothy Day Homeless Shelter in St. Paul.

The campaign gained global attention, reaching over 2.5 million in 35 countries and received trademark requests for the campaign’s slogan “Find the Kind.”