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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.

"If serving is beneath you, leading is beyond you.” - Jessica Cabeen

“This mantra provides the motivation to ensure my day is balanced with opportunities to serve and lead,” said Cabeen.

Dewey Schara, principal at Neveln Elementary in Austin Public Schools, describes how Cabeen lives her leadership mantra: “Transformational leadership is rarely demonstrated so seemingly effortlessly in public education. However, Jessica Cabeen exemplifies a true transformational leader. She not only directly improves those who work with her, she indirectly elevates those around her. As a peer principal, I can personally attest to this. The hallmarks of a transformational leader are the abilities to: create a shared vision, communicate it effectively with collaborative efforts, and motivate those involved to accomplish the vision.”

Click here to read the full press release. 

Congratulations to our 2017 National Distinguished Principal Candidates! Read more about each of these amazing principals in their individual press releases:
Lisa Carlson, Woodland Elementary, Rosemont-Apple Valley-Eagan, Click Here for press release
Nancy Antoine, Bridgewater Elementary, Northfield: Click Here for press release
Jessica Cabeen, Woodson Kindergarten Center, Austin: Click Here for press release

NDP Process Timeline: 
Read the full 2017 NDP process timeline here. 2018 NDP application will be released in early November.

January 2018 - Nominations Due (Word or PDF) Send nominations to mespa@mespa.net or mail to 1667 Snelling Avenue N, Suite C101, St. Paul, MN 55108. 

NDP History

2017, Jessica Cabeen, Austin
2016, Brad Gustafson, Wayzata
2015, Mark French, Osseo Area
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
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