K-M Elementary celebrates School of Excellence award
It was an exciting day at Kasson-Mantorville Elementary School last Thursday as students, staff, parents, and the community celebrated the school’s being named one of four state elementary schools designated a Minnesota School of Excellence.
Jon Millerhagen, executive director of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association, officially presented a plaque to student representatives at an all-school assembly in the school gym. Also in attendance was State Sen. Carla Nelson, who gave the students a copy of a resolution entered into the Minnesota Senate record recognizing the school’s achievements.
In addition to parents, a variety of guests were present including Mantorville Mayor Chuck Bradford, several Kasson-Mantorville School Board members, Kasson-Mantorville Lions Club members, and State Rep. Duane Quam.
There were also comments by Principal Ariana Wright and K-M Superintendent Mark Matuska.
K-M Elementary School Cub Scouts started off the afternoon by leading those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Wright thanked the school’s teachers, staff, parents, students, administration and school board, and the community for making the school successful.
“I have been so very proud to serve as principal these past eight years,” she said.
It’s an honor to be here to celebrate KMES’s School of Excellence Award,” Matuska said, thanking Wright, the teachers, the staff for creating a high-quality learning environment and the parents and families for their support.
“I can’t forget the kids themselves,” he added.
Millerhagen said his organization represents the elementary school principals in Minnesota. In 1983, he said, six member principals decided they wanted to recognize the best elementary schools in the state and began the School of Excellence program.
It is a year-long long process to choose the recipients, he said, a process that involves the entire school and community in learning what is good in the school and what can be done to improve.
Millerhagen added he was already familiar with Kasson-Mantorville Elementary as the school also received the School of Excellence designation in the 2013-2014 school year.
“Schools of Excellence are so needed in our state,” said Nelson, adding it was made possible by parents, staff, teachers, and principals working together.
Four students accepted the certificate from Millerhagen and also a copy of the Senate resolution from Nelson.
The official program concluded after the singing of a song, “This is Me,” by KMES third graders.
Students and guests then headed for the football stadium, where the students were applauded by the guests as they passed through the inflatable tunnel onto the football field where an all-school photo was taken.
The School of Excellence award was actually announced by the MESPA last September.
In a release at that time Millerhagen said that “this school improvement program examines the entire school community through six national standards, ensuring there is a holistic approach to creating a plan for future achievement and celebrating the unique accomplishments of each School of Excellence.”
In addition to KMES, 2022-2023 Oak Hills Elementary School in Lakevile, Hawthorne Elementary in Albert Lea, and Sebeka Public School in Sebeka achieved the designation.
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century. Established by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA), the program is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education, as well as the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and was nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education—which “recognizes particular innovations and achievements in the field of education.”
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program was established in 1986, combining the findings of current research on effective schooling with the practical on-site experience of working principals and education staff. It offers a comprehensive school improvement process that results in student learning growth. This school improvement process focuses on six national standards and involves a systematic self-study, development of a school improvement plan, and implementation of the plan based on demonstrated results. Since the program’s inception, 222 schools have earned Minnesota School of Excellence validation. The validation remains effective for seven years, at which point schools may choose to reapply for validation.