MANKATO — Principals Jason Grovom and Travis Olson learned that Kennedy Elementary School is one of seven schools recently named a Minnesota School of Excellence, a prestigious honor.
And both principals had reason to be proud. Grovom just took over this school year as principal at Kennedy. And Olson, who has moved onto serve as principal at Franklin Elementary this year, was the former principal at Kennedy and put in a year of hard work to help the school achieve the honor.
“We were very excited,” Olson said. “It’s a great thing for our kids and our parents and our staff to be recognized for all the hard work and commitment to the students and their achievement.”
Olson said Kennedy began making changes years ago when the school wasn’t making Adequate Yearly Progress standards based on state standardized test scores. Olson said the school has made tremendous growth, including being identified as a Reward School under the new Multiple Measurements Rating system.
School staff decided to pursue the Minnesota School of Excellence program as “another way for us to continue to move forward.”
After a yearlong process that began with an application process and parent and staff surveys, Kennedy received word of having achieved the honor this summer.
Grovom said he’s proud to be the principal at such a great school, one of the district’s most diverse.
“(My reaction) was really just how lucky I am to be in a school like this where the teachers are so focused on student achievement and doing whatever we can to be better educators and have a commitment that all students will learn,” Grovom said.
Awarded by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, the Minnesota School of Excellence Program has a rigorous evaluation process. The process includes a schoolwide self-study and development and implementation of a school-improvement plan.
The association noted of Kennedy: The staff “have a history of being a group of people who are committed to going the extra mile. Whether it is volunteering for the end-of-year carnival, organizing a Family FUNdamental night, or contacting a local organization to procure school supply donations, the Kennedy staff have always believed in providing the best for their students.”
The Minnesota School of Excellence Program was established in 1986, and over the years 161 schools have earned Minnesota School of Excellence validation. The validation remains in effect for seven years.