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Russell Lofthus, Southwest Division
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Russell Lofthus, principal Adrian Elementary, Adrian
Educational philosophy: ”Since I am a music lover, I will use the words from the first verse of a song called “I Am A Child” by Neil Young that reflects my feelings about the importance of working with children and seeing things through their eyes.” 
I am a child,
I’ll last a while.
You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile.
You hold my hand,
Rough up my hair,
It’s lots of fun
To have you there.
“I believe that children truly enjoy having us as part of their lives, and they want us to know them as individuals. As principals, we need to understand that children are full of ideas and have great potential. The opportunity I have to oversee a school building that works for children is truly one of the pleasures of my life.”

Lofthus says of his most significant career accomplishments, “Having an opportunity to work with dedicated staff and great kids is my greatest accomplishment as a principal. When I reflect back on the road that led me into education, I have to stop and pinch myself that I am indeed working as a principal in a great school in southwest Minnesota.”

“I have focused on leading our district toward creating a high quality integrated early childhood program that is a model of success: 95% of our kindergarten students have attended at least one year, and in most cases two years of preschool.”

“I fondly remember my first day as principal at Adrian Elementary: it was the day my district began planning the school building I work in. The opportunity to be involved with all aspects of the design phase, the bond campaign, the day-to-day construction phase, and the moving-in phase was a great accomplishment for me – and I love the building I work in, as I think it is an awesome place for kids to learn and staff to work.”

As a building leader, I believe a major aspect of my work is to manage the resources. One example is to design a schedule that promotes quality learning. Our schedule provides things like: daily common planning time at each grade level, professional learning opportunities during the school day for staff to examine data and student work to improve instruction, and a balanced curriculum that I refer to as a liberal arts curriculum – that focuses on the needs of the whole child. In order for teachers to reach all students, we need to make sure they have quality tools. This year every classroom in my building has a Smart Board, and the staff have all received training to make this implementation work. The new curricula that are available to us have embraced the use of technology in the classroom, so Smart Boards have become an integral part of our instructional process.”  
          
In nominating Lofthus, Todd Holthaus (principal, Hills-Beaver Creek) said: “Russell is the complete package principal. His love for the people in his learning community is commendable. Russ maintains his focus on practice that enhances student achievement.”

Other recognitions: MESPA division president-elect and president; National Distinguished Principal selection committee.