MREA announced today the schools and programs that earned the 2023 Innovation Program Awards for reimagining education and delivering results for students.

MREA will honor the Nature-Based Kindergarten Experience program at Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools and the Prairie Science Program at Fergus Falls Public Schools at an awards ceremony on Nov. 12.

The awards ceremony will be live-streamed at 6 pm on Nov. 12.

Four Educators of Excellence Honorees, one from each MREA zone, will also be announced as part of MREA’s Awards Program.

Each year, MREA recognizes school programs that serve as an example of educational opportunities for rural students with the Innovation Award. Selected programs illustrate innovation, benefits for students, collaboration and ease of adaptability. Programs throughout MREA member districts are nominated and then selected by the MREA Board of Directors. Watch for nomination information in January 2024.

2023 Honorees

Nature-Based Kindergarten Experience

Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools

Kindergarteners in Kasson Mantorville are immersing themselves in the hands-on lessons of nature on Wilderness Wednesdays. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, teachers Kelly Schmidt and Megan Melhouse bring their classes of Kindergarteners outside to learn.

Nature Based Kindergarten Experience is an opt-in experience for Kasson Mantorville Kindergarteners. Through the Nature Based Kindergarten Experience program, teachers believe children build resilience, confidence and learn respect by being part of nature. Those qualities are then seen back in the classroom during inside time. It’s not just the academics that children are needing, the teachers explain, it’s exploration and play, which is the core of learning in the Nature Based Kindergarten program.

Stay tuned for the Nature-Based Kindergarten Experience feature video that will launch after the Awards Ceremony.

Prairie Science Program

Fergus Falls Public Schools

Fourth and fifth graders in the Fergus Falls Public School District have a unique opportunity to participate in the Prairie Science Program. This program takes place on the 300+ acres of prairie wetlands that are only a few miles from the elementary school.

The teachers at the Prairie Science building work hard to incorporate the lessons into what’s happening in nature, taking the lead from nature, not a textbook.

In a busy, electronic world, the teachers strive to remove that clutter from student’s lives and immerse them into an environment where there’s always something new to learn and encourages them to be aware of how the outdoors makes them feel.

Stay tuned for the Prairie Science Program feature video that will launch after the Awards Ceremony.

Watch it Live

MREA will host its 2023 Awards Ceremony on Nov. 12 at 6 pm. Watch the MREA website for the live link to watch the Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the MREA Greater Education Summit, featuring keynotes and dynamite breakout sessions for teachers, school administrators, board members and other education professionals. Learn more.