Each year MREA recognizes leaders who are delivering results for schools in Greater Minnesota through its Educators of Excellence, Innovation, 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 Past Award Recipients

Nominate an Educator

Nominations are due February 28. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Awards Ceremony & Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574 or toll free at (833) MNVOICE.

Nominate an Educator

2020 Honorees


Jacqueline Stoffel


Jaqueline Stoffel developed a unified physical education program that pairs students with disabilities with other students to gain skills and develop friendships.

See her story

North Central

Kathrina O’Connell

Lake Park-Audubon 

Kathrina O’Connell keeps coming up with big ideas to engage students, from a greenhouse and pollinator garden to an extensive summer literacy program.

See her story

South Central

Chad Powers

New London-Spicer

Chad Powers wears many hats for his school and community, but it is the one as firefighter and EMT that led him to develop an EMT program for his students.

See his story


Andrew Hopkins


Andrew Hopkins meshes modern technology with traditional practices to transport his students around the world, uncover patterns and increase wonder.

See his story

Innovation 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 Past Award Recipients

Nominate a Program

Nominations must be received by March 31. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Awards Ceremony & Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Nominate a program

2020 Innovative Programs


Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Public Schools

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School developed an extensive career-based advisory and pathways model for 9-12 students. Built through workforce connections both locally and regionally, the program focuses on three major areas of workforce readiness and incorporates graduation requirements.

Learn More

Health Field Science

West Central Area Schools

Students at West Central Area High School gain in-depth, real-life experience to careers in the health field through a comprehensive community collaborative. The growing program not only allows them to earn certifications while in high school but also brings them to a variety of health organizations in their local community.

Learn More

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. MREA recognizes these key leaders who have demonstrated contributions in one or more of the following areas:

  • Development of leadership potential of rural youth and adults in a rural region or statewide
  • Enhancement of rural community development regionally or statewide
  • Support and assist in furthering the effectiveness of communications  and partnerships between local school districts and business/industry, governmental agencies, institutions of higher education, and/or the private sector
  • Advocacy leadership to support legislation to enhance rural school/education
  • Leadership in the development of rural education-related conferences and workshops

Nominate Today

Deadline for entries is June 1. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Awards Ceremony & Banquet in November.
Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574.

Download Nomination Form

2019 Honorees

Jeremy Kovash & Dr. Boyd Bradbury

When the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) raised the credentialing standards for high school teachers to teach concurrent enrollment, Kovash and Bradbury collaborated to find a solution. They led a partnership between their two organizations Lakes Country Service Cooperative and Minnesota State University Moorhead along with the Northwest Service Cooperative.

The result is 18 Online, a graduate initiative for high school teachers in Minnesota to gain the 18 credits they need to teach concurrent enrollment under the new credentialing standards – for free. Since 2017, the program has served hundreds of teachers in all six economic regions in Minnesota and as of this fall, enabled teachers to earn nearly 1,700 credits.

Read More
View Past Award Recipients

Awards News