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Esala named 'Principal of the Year'

The Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association (MESPA) recognized Greg Esala, principal of New York Mills Elementary, New York Mills School District (ISD #0553), with the 2009 MESPA Division Leadership Achievement Award. Principals are responsible for a school's instructional, school culture, and resource leadership. The award honors principals whose exemplary leadership and sustained efforts have made noteworthy contributions to the operation of effective school learning programs - improving education, their communities, and their profession.

In his principalship, Esala's philosophy is: "'We care.' I continue to remind my staff and students that we are a school that cares about others. That is why we do what we do...because we care."

Among his most significant career accomplishments, Esala includes:

• "After 9/11 our elementary school created a quilt to bring to a school close to ground zero. The entire school, every student, had a hand in making the quilt and a delegation from the school presented it in New York -- an unbelievable learning experience for us all."

• "We raised $125,000 for a new playground at the school, all done in less than nine months. Great community and parent support!"

• "I have been involved/led many additions in curriculum including: early intervention in reading, math intervention, and new math and reading series."

Past honors and recognition received by Esala include: MESPA Western division treasurer for seven years; selected to officiate in the Minnesota State High School League football and baseball tournaments.

MESPA members selected 12 of their peers to receive the 2009 MESPA Division Leadership Achievement Award; Esala was nominated by his Western division colleagues. "Great principals lead great schools. These men and women are leaders in our profession and truly represent the very best in Minnesota public schools. As leaders, we focus on the potential and possibilities to ignite hope within our schools," said P. Fred Storti, MESPA executive director.

2009 MESPA Division Leadership Achievement Award Recipients

- Tim Bell, Five Hawks Elementary School in Prior Lake, Prior Lake-Savage School District

- Gary Chesner, Northport Elementary School in Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale School District

- David Craft, Greenvale Park Elementary School in Northfield, Northfield School District

- Suraya Driscoll, South Point Elementary School in East Grand Forks, East Grand Forks School District

- Greg Esala, New York Mills Elementary School in New York Mills, New York Mills School District

- Stephen Gorde, Rutherford Elementary in Stillwater, Stillwater School District

- Russell Lofthus, Adrian Elementary School in Adrian, Adrian School District

- Dennis Nelson, Hermantown Elementary School in Hermantown, Hermantown School District

- Lillie Pang, Longfellow Community School in Minneapolis, Minneapolis School District

- Warren Retzlaff, Lakeside Elementary School in Chisago City, Chisago Lakes School District

- Jayne Ropella, Eastern Heights Elementary School in St. Paul, St. Paul School District

- Deborah Shepard, Rum River Elementary School in Andover, Anoka-Hennepin School District

MESPA is the professional association of Minnesota's elementary and middle level principals. With the vision to "be the premiere resource for preparing today's principals for tomorrow and a strong leading voice for public education" and a statewide membership over 950 principals, MESPA has represented Minnesota's principals since 1950. MESPA is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and its 29,500 members nationwide.