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Minnesota NAESP National Distinguished Principal┬« Award

The NAESP National Distinguished Principal® (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.

Eligible Candidates for the Award: Candidate must be an active member of MESPA and belong to NAESP (being in at least their 3rd year of NAESP Active level membership by May of the nomination year) and must maintain membership through the conclusion of the NAESP Award Ceremony; must be a participating principal with at least five years of experience; and must plan to continue as a practicing principal.

Congratulations to Ariana Wright, Minnesota's 2022 NAESP National Distinguished Principal®!


“I am humbled and honored to represent the hundreds of passionate, dedicated and student-centered elementary principals from around the state as the 2022 National Distinguished Principal of Minnesota. Serving students, families, staff, and the communities of Kasson and Mantorville is my passion and being recognized for doing what I love is something I will treasure as a highlight of my career! I am genuinely grateful to the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association for providing a strong foundation of support and leadership development opportunities.”  - Ariana Wright

Ariana Wright, principal of Kasson-Mantorville Elementary in the Kasson-Mantorville Schools District, and a member of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA), is Minnesota’s 2022 NAESP National Distinguished Principal (NDP). MESPA and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) present the prestigious award.

Click here to read the full press release. 

NDP History

2021, Nancy Antoine, Northfield

2020, Bret Domstrand, Lakeville
2019, Eric Skanson, ROCORI

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

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

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