Candidates | South Zone

These candidates have applied for Administrator and Teacher seats open as of January 1, 2024 on the MREA Board of Directors:

Administrator | 4-Year Term | 2024-2027

Mary Morem | Houston School District

I am the superintendent of Houston Public Schools. I began my career in education at Austin Public Schools and continued my teaching and coaching career at Blooming Prairie for 13 years before becoming a principal. I’ve spent the last 30 years learning everything there is to know about the public school system. I spent 20 years on the field, court, and classroom working with all ages in small rural schools over the state. The last 10 years I have been an elementary, middle and high school principal which has led me to superintendency. I’m passionate about providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students — a place where all feel valued, welcomed and wanted. I want to find out what they are passionate about and build opportunities for all students to be successful. I believe in all people and the value that relationships provide and I believe small rural schools provide this. My vast experience in all roles would be a good fit for the MREA board.

Nels Onstad | Wabasha-Kellogg School District

I have been in rural education my entire career.  During the past many years, MREA has become the advocacy group I have collaborated with the most. Beyond the support provided to rural communities, the organization represents the entire school district.  My experiences working with MREA, the executive director and Sam, as well as my administrative and MDE experiences have led to positive outcomes for rural schools.  I believe I can and will be an asset to the board of Directors. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Teacher | 3-Year Term | 2024-2026

Craig Brenden | Waseca School District

I have served as the teacher representative for the South Zone of the Minnesota Rural Education Association Board for the past two years and have been inspired by MREA’s dedication and determination to make sure the voice of rural Minnesota school districts is heard at our State Capitol. We have a powerful voice that works to effect change for all of our rural school districts. Keeping our members informed of the issues facing education is our number 1 priority. One of the areas I would like to develop more is teacher engagement with MREA and getting more teachers knowledgeable about the purpose of MREA and how, we as teachers, can be a more effective part of the voice in developing plans for the future of education in our state. I have been a rural educator for the past 32 years. My roots are rural, growing up on a dairy and grain farm near Rothsay. Our rural school districts are a vital piece of our state, and we need MREA to be that voice for rural education.

Cynthia Gail | New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva School District
My interest in serving on the rural board is out of devotion for my students and helping to find solutions as to what will best fit their needs. I was on the board for the Farm bureau in Albert Lea serving on the education committee and we rallied at the capitol in Minnesota in favor of ethanol. I was on the Board for the Salvation Army in Alamogordo, NM and we offered the underprivileged a thanksgiving feast and at Christmas a giving tree. I also did prison ministry with several people on this board. In March of 2022 I went to a NAEA national conference in New York and learned about incarcerated young women coming from rural areas. In February I wrote letters to the house representatives and senators in Minnesota to request raises for teachers in Minnesota. I also reached out to Washington on this matter as a US problem. One real concern I had in 2019 was the mental health of my students at which time I enrolled in a 50-hour course on brain health from the Amen Clinic. This has helped to give me real insight into the various brain issues children suffer from. I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to learn and do the best I can.