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MN National Distinguished Principal Program

The National Distinguished Principals (NDP) Program was established in 1984 as an annual event to honor exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set the pace, character, and quality of the education children receive during their early school years.

The program is sponsored by MESPA and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), in corporate sponsorship with VALIC. The program highlights the fundamental importance of the school principal in achieving educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students. 

The recognition afforded by the NDP designation instills pride in principals' accomplishments and reinforces their continued leadership in helping children develop a lifelong love of learning.

One principal is chosen annually from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Public school principals are nominated by peers in their home states, and the final selection (based on applications submitted by each nominee) are made by each state's NAESP affiliate. (MESPA selects the Minnesota NDP.) NDP awards ceremonies take place in Washington, D.C., each fall.

2019 NDP Application Materials Now Available!

How to Apply: 

Nominations Due January 1, 2019 (Word or PDF) – Send nominations to mespa@mespa.net or mail to 1667 Snelling Ave N, Suite C101, St. Paul, MN 55108. You can also nominate using this online form

Applications Due January 29, 2019 (Word or PDF) – Send completed applications to mespa@mespa.net or mail to 1667 Snelling Ave N, Suite C101, St. Paul, MN 55108.


"Creating a positive school culture for students, staff, and families is the most important work and accomplishment that I do each and every day as a principal.” - Curtis Slater

Dr. Steven Geis, principal at North Trail Elementary in Farmington Area Public Schools, described how Slater creates that culture: “[Slater] is one of the most passionate, conscientious, giving, and nurturing educators who holds all, including himself, to the highest standards measurable,” Geis said. “Curt is passionate about creating the best learning environment for his students and community of learners. I truly believe if all our fellow educators emulated his professionalism, we would be the envy of 49 other states.”

Click here to read the full press release. 

NDP History

2018, Curtis Slater, Wyoming
2017, Jessica Cabeen, Austin
2016, Brad Gustafson, Wayzata
2015, Mark French, Osseo Area
2014, 
Michelle Krell, Kasson-Mantorville 
2013, Mari Lu Martens, Sibley East
2012, Jon Millerhagen, Bloomington 
2011, Joan Franks, Minneapolis 
2010, Sanford Nelson, Detroit Lakes 
2009, Stacy DeCorsey, Jordan 
2008, Dr. Gail M. Swor, Bloomington 
2007, Jolene Jans Landwer, Coleraine 
2006, Diane M. Moeller, St. Cloud 

2005, John Ahem, Roseville 
2004, Wendie Anderson, Mora

2003, James Hoogheem, Osseo 

2002, Gloria Kumagai, St. Paul 
2001, Byron Schwab, Eagan 
2000, Jean Clark, Sauk Rapids 
1999, Mary Endorf, Orono 
1998, Craig Kay, Dassel-Cokato 
1997, Diane Trisko, Rochester 
1996, Jeffrey Raison, Minneapolis 
1995, Janet Pladson, Bloomington 

1994, Teresa (Teri) Edwards, Minneapolis 
1993, Patricia Erlandson, Edina 

1992, Robert Hurst, Brainerd 
1991, Delores Henderson, Saint Paul 
1990, Lynn Street, Westonka 
1989, Ken Hatch, Slayton; 
1988, Kay Douglass, Monticello 
1987, Robert Sande, Rochester 
1986, Roger Gordon, Duluth 
1985, Robert Ziegler, Rockford 
1984, Arlyn Gunderman, Mounds View
 

MESPA is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization

1667 Snelling Avenue North, Suite C101
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55108
651.999.7310
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