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In this week’s article, I would like to take time to share information about a recognition program in which the ROCORI School District participates.  The program, sponsored by our regional service center, Resource Training and Solutions, is intended to honor the work and service of educational support staff.  The support staff recognition event is the Educational Support Staff of Excellence program. 



The annual Educational Support Staff of Excellence program was initiated at the urging of St. Cloud area school districts as a means of formally honoring the work of the many people needed to make schools function effectively.  Several school districts, ROCORI included, strongly encouraged the development of the recognition program—based on experiences with teachers and students. 

School districts have many very hard-working, quality staff members who receive little or no recognition for their work.  They are not named the district, state or national employee of the year yet they do quality work in education day in and day out!  The awards are intended to recognize any staff members who do not hold teaching licenses but in some fashion still help fulfill the mission of our schools.   

In order to provide some recognition, and to present those awards in front of their peers, Resource Training and Solutions established Educational Support Staff of Excellence Awards program.  The selection of the district recipients is left to the individual school districts.  Each district establishes is own decision-making processes.



As the Educational Support Staff of Excellence program was developed, a set of criteria was framed to help districts determine how to identify and select candidates.  High standards of performance, quality character and expectations, good stewardship, and making a difference for students on a regular basis are key elements making up the qualities of nominees for this recognition. 


A set of criteria was developed to help districts determine how to identify and select candidates.  The criteria for selecting honorees included the following standards:

·The nominee must be a non-licensed educator

·Has a thorough knowledge of work responsibilities, demonstrates safety for self and others, and cultivates respect for resources and facilities.

·Portrays a positive role model for students, staff, and the community.

·Is an exemplary staff member who recognizes students, peers and colleagues as individuals and who shows genuine respect and concern for others.

·Seeks to improve personally and professionally.

·Is making a difference every day in the lives of students, staff, and their community.



Mark Schmitz, Executive Director of Resource Training and Solutions, explained at the awards program that this event is the only one of its kind in the state of Minnesota.  Each school district determines its own groups and or specific process for recognition, but the overall criteria are expected to be applied.

In ROCORI, we have chosen to honor four broader groups of employees.  We have tried to organize the groups to have some balance in regard to the number of employees.  We have nomination processes for those in food service.  A second group is custodial, maintenance and grounds-keeping.  Clerical, office staff, health technicians and other positions are a third group.  Our paraprofessionals comprise the fourth category.

For the 2016 Educational Support Staff of Excellence program, our honorees included Christine Barker, Dana Groetsch, Patty Janssen, and Tina Orbeck.

Christine Barker was selected to represent the food service staff.  Christine is the Head Cook at the Secondary site. 

Tina Orbeck was chosen from among our custodial, maintenance, and grounds-keeping staff.  Tina is a Cleaner with her assignment primarily at the Middle School at the Secondary site.

Dana Groetsch represented the clerical and office staff across the district.  Dana is the Secretary at Richmond Elementary School.

Patty Janssen was selected from the paraprofessional employees.  Patty has served as a Paraprofessional working primarily with special needs students at Richmond Elementary School.



The ROCORI recipients were honored at a banquet at the St. Cloud River Center Convention site on Wednesday evening, September 28, 2016.  The keynote address for the celebration was offered by Mike Schmidt, Principal in the Staples-Motley School District. 

His address was titled, “Humor with a heart—Don’t leave ‘em out…and How thanking them, thanks you!”  Mike shared personal stories of his educational and professional experiences that have helped him come to realize the difference that individuals can make in the lives of others.  He shared examples of how people reached out to him to impact his life. 

Comments emphasizing the value support staff members bring to schools and students were also made by Kathy Belsheim, Presiding Superintendent from Ogilvie, Jan Solarz, School Board Member at Sauk Rapids-Rice and Board Member at Resource Training and Solutions, and Executive Director, Mark Schmitz.

Each honoree was presented with an award, a certificate from the Governor, and a special blanket from Resource Training and Solutions.

Congratulations to the ROCORI recipients on this leadership honor!  Thank you for your dedication to students, your commitment to excellence, and the difference you make in the lives of students every day!