Sourcewell is hosting their Educators of Excellence Awards event on April 29 at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook Live.

The event looks to celebrate the efforts of area educators. A recording of the complete event will also be shared the following day at sourcewell-mn.gov as well as be available on Facebook.

Instructions to view the Facebook Live event:

  • Go to facebook.com/sourcewellgov.
  • If you aren’t logged into Facebook, you will see a pop-up prompting you to log in or create an account. You can skip the step by clicking "not now."
  • Scroll down the page until you see a Premiere box titled "Educators of Excellence - 2020 Virtual Celebration."
  • Click on the box to start watching.

The Educators of Excellence honorees from the area include:

Bertha-Hewitt honoree:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Mikayla Jorgenson: Mikayla's special education classroom is indeed ‘special.’ She goes out of her way to provide innovative learning opportunities for her students, including the creation of sensory stations in her classroom. Her proactive approach has improved the learning environment for her students and the working environment for the paras she oversees.

Freshwater honoree:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Nicole Schmidt: Nicole has been a Vision Impaired Teacher in the Freshwater Education District for over 10 years, working with students ages birth through 12th grade. Recently, Nicole coordinated a camp for students with vision needs allowing them a chance to participate in daily life skills, as well as fun games. The camp is a wonderful learning experience for students, parents and staff alike.

Menahga honorees:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Kami Johnson: Kami’s success with students begins with a mission to develop meaningful and authentic relationships that convey a sense of mutual respect. Being passionate about the content she teaches, Kami creates a variety of ways learners can demonstrate their understanding while maintaining a high level of expectations.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Michelle Koch: Michelle is the rock that holds Menahga Elementary together, says her nominator. Relationships with all students in the district are a priority for Michelle. She works to ensure respect, responsibility, safety and bravery through her school as she facilitates the SWAT team, as well as challenging the priorities with her involvement with MREA.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Stephanie Kramer: Stephanie isn’t afraid to try new and innovative approaches to curriculum. She works to incorporate as much hands-on learning as possible in the social studies department using multimedia approaches. She actively works to problem solve and is always willing to pitch in whenever needed.

Sebeka honorees:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Dave Kerkvliet: Dave (also known as Mr. K.) has provided leadership in Instrumental Music at Sebeka School for nearly 25 years. While Mr. K's ability to have nearly every student join instrumental music in the fifth grade is impressive, the retention of those students throughout high school speaks for itself.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Kari Carlson: Kari has been a first-grade teacher at Sebeka Elementary for 20 years. Kari is a teacher of excellence due to her passion for learning, dedication to her responsibilities, commitment to improve professionally and overall compassion for the children who learn and grow in her classroom.

Staples-Motley honorees:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Stacey Carter: Stacey has been teaching in the Staples-Motley School District for 31 years. Her quick wit helps push teams forward and laugh, all while continuing the important work educators attend to each and every day.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Sarah Dano: Sarah is continuously learning and improving herself as an educator. She searches out ways to meet her students where they’re at, along with facilitating their growth as people and students. This commitment to improvement is an exceptional model for both staff and students alike.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Joy Rippentrop: Great educators not only teach students, they reach them. Joy Rippentrop is a fine example of a courageous teacher who empowers her students’ academic, emotional and social growth. Her efforts with the Connections classroom and ProStart are blended seamlessly with her caring approach to her students.

Verndale honorees:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Sam Schmitz: Sam is a strong educational leader who is dedicated to her school, students, athletes and community. Her enthusiasm and love for teaching is expressed through her innovative content delivery and the rapport she has built with her students. Sam does whatever it takes to help students succeed. Congratulations, Sam.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Jamie Adams: Jamie goes above and beyond to meet the needs of her students, ensuring their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and by recognizing them at all-school Pirate Pride celebrations. She also goes out of her way to make sure her colleagues have the support and resources they need to provide the best education for their students. Congratulations, Jamie.

Wadena-Deer Creek honorees:

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Brad Wollum: As a junior high school science teacher, Brad takes a hands-on approach to teaching and learning. His lab-based-focus keeps students excited and wanting to learn. Many of his former and current students have said, "Mr. Wollum just loves science." His students pick up on his positive energy and his science classroom is a place they want to be.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Keith Ferris: The three words that best describe Keith are genuine, honest and intuitive. Keith’s WDC colleagues hold him in high regard and he is known as the go-to guy for many curriculum, technology and classroom/team management best practices. He also maintains his administrators’ and colleagues’ confidence as a teacher unit representative and negotiator.

Paraprofessionals of Excellence award recipients: This award is given to two individuals who have impacted both students and staff through their work.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Roxanne Kriens from Menahga Middle School: Roxanne is truly amazing to watch in a classroom. She adapts, modifies and creates accommodations on the spot, reteaches, and is patient with everyone. Since adopting a literacy intervention program at Menahga Middle School, Roxanne has been key to its success and fidelity. Under her guidance, most students in the intervention grow an additional one to two years in skills.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Jill Dilly of Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary: Jill’s extraordinary support and efforts have helped deliver reading and math interventions to over 150 Title I eligible students at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary. Her quiet leadership among her paraprofessional peers has led to a better building of positive student relationships and using an influence approach when assisting students in making good choices.

2020 Sourcewell Coach of Excellence award recipient: Each year, this honor goes to a coach who has positively impacted students through his or her work and has affected sportsmanship and player/student development.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Cody Pulju of Menahga High School: Cody has been the head girls’ basketball coach at Menahga High School since 2016, compiling an overall record of 93-16, including three consecutive conference titles and two consecutive state appearances. However, he doesn’t measure his success in wins and losses, but rather in his ability to instill lifelong skills that go beyond the game. Whether it’s practice, off-season workouts or during the game, Cody is always emphasizing five components: work ethic, teamwork, commitment, class and sportsmanship. Through rapport, Cody shows each individual that he cares more about them as a person than he does about the game.

2020 Leader of Excellence award recipient: This honor is reserved for an individual that exemplifies character and integrity, competency, values relationships and building positive culture and innovation.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Superintendent Dave Fjeldheim of Sebeka Schools: Dave Fjeldheim’s vision, direction and perseverance have helped the region become a statewide leader in professional development, guiding teachers and leaders in impacting student achievement. In 2008, Dave took the first step in advancing professional development in the area by bringing a literacy coaching program to the Freshwater Education District. Within three years the program grew to serve nine school districts and became the seed for services offered today through Education Solutions at Sourcewell. Dave is known by many as a person of great character and is always seeking what’s best for students.