MREA travels the state to see some of our greatest educators in action. We talked to their students, colleagues and community. We left invigorated about the future and prouder than ever about a profession that is making a difference each and every day. Learn more about Educators of Excellence.

Dr. Jackie


Dr. Jackie Stevens brings an energy and enthusiasm to her classroom that is unparalleled. Her dedication to education and staff personal development is felt by every educator in the district.

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

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Jessica Strom has flipped her high school math classroom to allow her students to become the problem solvers and teach one another. It’s been a lightbulb moment for her students and other educators who have seen it in action. Learn more.

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Howard Van Otterloo


Howard Van Otterloo offers his students an opportunity to see 48 states before they graduate high school – an opportunity not many people experience in a lifetime.

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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.

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Pine City

Ryan Larson started a new academy inside his school district’s middle and high schools to provide a new approach to inter-disciplinary learning. The results have been life-changing for students who have struggled. Learn more.

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Kristen Schwarz believes in teaching real-life skills to her students. She meets her students where they are, and fosters their individual interests to bring out the greatest potential in each of them.

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New London-Spicer

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

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Westbrook-Walnut Grove

Patrick Merrick helps students learn what they thought they couldn’t. He constantly develops new science classes and community projects and uses humor and teenage applications to engage students. Learn more.

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John VanKempen

West Central Area

John VanKempen instills a curiosity in his students that fosters problem solving, team work, and fun. Focusing on relevant skills and the wonder of nature, John teaches by doing and experiencing.

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Andrew Hopkins


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

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Anthony McGee teaches by walking around, asking good questions and engaging students in new, hands-on experiences once limited to schools in large metro areas – like a mobile lab with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Learn more.

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