Tricounty News

LEEA Banquet Oct. 24

By Sandra Cordie

Piano music, corsages and words of congratulations greeted the honorees and their guests at the Leaders in Educational Excellence Awards ceremony (LEEA). The event was on Wednesday,

Oct. 24, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

More than 450 people attended the event to honor 152 educators who were recognized with a plaque and certificate from the Governor of Minnesota. The honorees were nominated by their school or district. Represented at the event are public, private, parochial, charter schools, and the Wright Technical Center. There were 41 school districts / agencies represented.

The evening began with a welcome and congratulations by Rob Cavanna, executive director of Resource. Following the meal, the antics of the comedy duo Tina and Lena delighted the audience. Both former school teachers, their song and stories rang true.

The presiding superintendent for the evening was Mike Conner from the Isle School District. "I am honored to be here representing the superintendents. I was actually an honoree a few years back and remember how special this event felt," he said. "I want you to think about what and who brought you to this point. Consider those who supported you such as your parents, the school board and other mentors. Now, it is time for you to mentor to others. Help push them to greatness," he continued.

Ken Anderson, Board Chair at Resource, extended congratulations to the honorees. Ken, who is retired from teaching and is currently a part time tour bus driver, told the story of an elderly man who was on one of his trips and traveling with his son. "The man told me a story of his first grade teacher, Miss Russell, who made him go to her house and work on his reading during Christmas vacation. He hated Miss Russell; he was missing out on his vacation. When he grew older he finally realized that not only was he missing out on Christmas vacation but so was Miss Russell. You see Miss Russell was a great teacher, her efforts stuck with this man forever," stated Anderson.

This banquet marked the 21st anniversary of the LEEA event. To date, there have been 3,041 educators in the Central MN region who have received this recognition. Districts have the discretion to create their own selection criteria based upon suggested criteria from the LEEA organizing committee.

The event is sponsored by the participating school districts, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Resource Training & Solutions. It is coordinated by Sandra Cordie, Director of Educational Program.

"Honorees, you may never know all the great things you do-just keep doing good work," Anderson added.

Minnesota's Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, was unable to attend but sent a letter congratulating honorees. In part of her letter to the honorees she said, "I want to congratulate you and all of the educators you are recognizing this year for the important work you are doing and for your strong commitment to the children of Minnesota. It is always a great pleasure for me to acknowledge the exceptional achievements of Minnesota educators."