Submitted by brian on



In this week’s article, I would like to take time to share information about two recognition programs in which the ROCORI School District participates.  The programs, sponsored by our regional service center,  Resource Training and Solutions, are intended to honor the work and service of support staff and teaching staff.   The support staff recognition event is the Educational Support Staff of Excellence program.  The teaching event is affectionately known as the LEEAs—short for the Leadership in Educational Excellence Awards.



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.  The awards are intended to recognize any staff members, based on decision-making processes within each school district, who do not hold teaching licenses but in some fashion still help fulfill the mission of our schools.

We have been an active participant in the teacher recognition program (LEEA) which has been in place for a longer period of time.  The LEEA awards program was instituted by Resource Training and Solutions as a way to bring about regional recognition to the work and efforts of staff members within our individual school districts. 

Many school districts have very hard-working, quality staff members who receive little or no recognition for their work.  They are not named the district, state or national teacher or employee of the year yet they do quality work in education day in and day out!

In order to provide some recognition, even if only on a regional basis, and to present those awards in front of their peers, Resource Training and Solutions  established both the Educational Support Staff of Excellence and the Leadership in Educational Excellence Awards.



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 on September 30 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 2015 Educational Support Staff of Excellence program, our honorees included Theresa Nohner, Sandy Jost, Loraine Ashfeld, and Bonnie Eskuri.

Theresa Nohner was selected to represent the food service staff.  Sandy Jost was chosen from among our custodial, maintenance, and grounds-keeping staff.  Loraine Ashfeld represented the clerical and office staff across the district.  Bonnie Eskuri was selected from the paraprofessional  employees.

Congratulations to the ROCORI recipients.



This award is intended to be a celebration of the successes of our district teaching, administrative, and other professional staff who meet the criteria.  As outlined in the criteria for the award, the ROCORI School District seeks to recognize exemplary performance and leadership qualities in the award nominees. Nominators are asked to view the recognition process as a means to honor staff who give “above and beyond the call” on behalf of students.

Any staff member in the school district is able to submit nominations for the award.  Previous award recipients, however, are not eligible to receive the award a second time.  The district does not break the award down by building, location, grade level or any other format, but does encourage a broad array of nominees and candidates for the recognition.



Because the award is intended to recognize exemplary performance, the nomination form includes a set of criteria to help staff members select or consider nominees.   The criteria offered as guidelines for the LEEA awards include:

The honorees must be administrators, nurses, full-time, licensed PK-12 classroom teachers, counselors, and specialists (media, speech, special education, gifted/talented, etc.)

The honoree should:

*serve as an example to inspire fellow colleagues, students, and their communities  through positive leadership and attitude toward the educational field;

*possess a thorough knowledge of subject matter;

*demonstrate a leadership in curriculum development;

*provide a positive role model for students and staff;

*be an exemplary instructor who recognizes students as individuals and motivates them to reach their maximum potential;

*show genuine respect and concern for others;

*seek to improve personal and instructional effectiveness through continuing education and staff development activities; and

*contribute to the implementation of the district mission.



For 2015, the ROCORI recipients of the LEEA recognition include Brad Bauer, Jeanne Burtzel, Kara Linz and Rachel Neutzling.  Brad is a Science teacher at the Senior High level.  Jeanne serves as a fifth grade teacher at the John Clark Elementary site in Rockville.  Kara is a kindergarten teacher at Cold Spring Elementary School.  Rachel is a special education teacher at the Middle School.

The ROCORI recipients were honored at a banquet at the St. Cloud River Center Convention site on Wednesday evening, November 4.   More than 500 recipients and guests gathered for the celebration to honor the Central Minnesota Leadership in Educational Excellence Award winners! 

Congratulations to the ROCORI recipients on this leadership honor!