The 2016 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year serves two schools in the Sparta Area School District.
Principal Melissa Herek learned of the recognition April 4 during the Lawrence-Lawson morning meeting. Students and staff from her other school, Cataract Elementary, were also in attendance.
“It is an honor to be recognized as State Elementary Principal of the Year,” Herek said. “I accept this recognition on behalf of my students, staff, mentors, colleagues and family. I am truly blessed.”
Herek was eligible for the award after receiving the Herb Kohl Foundation Leadership Award in the first year school principals were honored. This new Kohl Foundation award recognizes school principals who set high standards for instruction, achievement, and character and for creating a climate to best serve students, families, staff, and community. Herek is now eligible for the National Elementary Principal of the Year.
“Ms. Herek is an outstanding leader and very deserving of recognition in this first group of honorees representing all of Wisconsin. Her award calls attention to the excellent work that is being done throughout our District by principals, teachers, and all those that work to make our schools great,” Superintendent John Hendricks said.
Herek has been a principal in the Sparta Area School district since the 2010-11 school year. In addition to serving as the principal at Cataract and Lawrence-Lawson, she has also served as an assistant principal at Sparta High School while employed in Sparta schools. Under her leadership, Lawrence-Lawson has been recognized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as Wisconsin School of Recognition and Title I Spotlight School; and as a PBIS School of Distinction and Wisconsin RtI Center School of Merit.
She has been a WSRA and Title 1 Association Administrator of the Year and Midwest Reading Council Administrator of the Year.
“One of the most important attributes Mrs. Herek provides the staff is her view of herself as an instructional coach first and foremost. She has such a belief and confidence in her staff that many of the duties a ‘typical principal’ may spend their time on are spread out to leaders throughout the building. This frees up time in her schedule to guide and support teachers in the classrooms. If teachers need help with teaching a certain academic area, or are in need of classroom management assistance, Mrs. Herek is the first one to offer professional resources, professional development, and support in the classroom to help,” said Jenny Banse, Lawrence-Lawson RtI/PBIS Learning Coach.
Herek received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout; Masters in Education degree from Viterbo University; Reading Specialist License from Viterbo University; Educational Leadership License from Viterbo University; and Director of Instruction from Viterbo University. In addition to the Sparta Area School District, she has served as an Adjunct Reading Teacher at Viterbo University; Elementary Principal, Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Title 1 Coordinator, and Homeless Liaison for the Mauston School District; and a Principal and Literacy Teacher, K-12 District Reading Specialist, Reading First Coordinator, Third Grade Teacher, and Kindergarten Teacher for the Reedsburg School District.
Herek lives in Elroy, Wis., with her husband and their two daughters.
The presentation was made by James Edmond, President, and Jim Lynch, Executive Director of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators. Also present were representatives of MEEMIC Insurance who sponsor the state program, and a representative from VALIC who sponsors the national program.