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Minnetonka Employee Awards for Child-Centered Excellence

This recognition program shines a spotlight on our many exemplary employees. It is not a selection of Minnetonka’s best employee in each category—which varies by year, by day, and by moment. This award seeks to select the best representatives of the many outstanding employees in the Minnetonka School District. The program includes recognition for representatives from every employee group.

2022 award recipients

  • Liz Barlow, Arts Center Marketing/Box Office Coordinator, Minnetonka Theatre
  • Nicole Bednark, Transportation Location Manager, First Student
  • Devan Branson, Explorers Staff Member, Minnewashta
  • Jody Eischens, Paraprofessional, MMW
  • Ashley Handahl, Payroll Coordinator, Districtwide
  • Mary Hauge, Nutrition Services, Groveland Elementary
  • Shelly Hughes, 504 Coordinator, MHS
  • Kari Mortensen, Paraprofessional, MME
  • Denise Nelson, Office/Clerical, MCEC
  • Lindsay Richins, Project SOAR Program Manager, MCEC
  • AJ Sammon, Nutrition Services, MHS
  • Lori Spencer, Paraprofessional, Groveland Elementary
  • Chris Weigel, Head Custodian, Deephaven Elementary

Award criteria

  • Demonstrates exemplary commitment, enthusiasm, student-focus, effectiveness, and professionalism
  • Maintains a helpful attitude and responsive behavior with encouraging words and outstanding customer service
  • Takes pride in surroundings and being a member of the Minnetonka School District educational team
  • Displays personal and professional integrity
  • Advocates for the best interest of students, exhibits a genuine love of children and a professional commitment to children’s learning; recognizes and appreciates being a partner in the educational success of each student
  • Demonstrates a commitment to professional growth, system improvement, and community involvement

Awards may be presented in each of the following employee categories:

  • Administrative and Support Personnel
  • Buildings and Grounds
  • Clerical
  • Community Ed
  • Coaches or co-curricular advisors
  • Food Service
  • Licensed professionals district-wide (Guidance, Social Workers, Nurses, OT/PT, Speech Lang., Psychologists, etc.)
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Principals
  • Teachers (please refer to the Excellence in Teaching award)

Nomination process

  • Any Minnetonka colleague, administrator, student, parent, community member, or alumnus may make the nomination. Self-nominations are not accepted.
  • The nomination shall include:
    • Nominator’s name and phone number
    • Nominee’s name, job title, and school or department
    • Answers to the following questions
      • Briefly describe this nominee’s strengths in relation to the criteria for this award.
      • Briefly describe how this nominee displays a genuine love of children and commitment to their learning.
      • Briefly describe this nominee’s attitude, responsiveness and customer service.
      • Briefly describe this nominee’s involvement in our schools and community, beyond regular duties.
  • Submit one or more letters of support which share personal observations of how the nominee demonstrates a commitment to child-centered excellence. It is suggested that letters be from both an employee and non-employee of the District.
  • Recipients are selected by the District Recognition Committee and shall be notified in late April.

Nominations for the 2022 Celebration of Excellence are closed.

The Awards

Past Recipients