Randolph Elementary Validated as 2023-2024 Minnesota School of Excellence


Randolph Elementary has been validated as a Minnesota School of Excellence (SOE) by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA). This prestigious honor was awarded to Randolph Elementary for its commitment to innovative teaching and learning.

“On behalf of Randolph Elementary we would like to thank the committee for this prestigious award. We are very honored to have been selected. This award truly reflects the dedication and commitment of our teachers and staff. An award like this means so much to us and shows that all the hard work we do doesn’t go unnoticed,” expressed Principal Matt Rutledge.

MESPA Executive Director, Michelle Krell, articulated, “Through the Minnesota School of Excellence (SOE) program, grounded in national research on high-performing schools, MESPA has created the premier opportunity in the state for validating excellence and a commitment to continual growth in a school community. This school improvement program examines the entire school community through six national standards, ensuring there is a holistic approach to creating a plan for future achievement and celebrating the unique accomplishments of each School of Excellence.”

The Minnesota School of Excellence (SOE) program promotes excellence through a rigorous one or two year-long, self directed evaluation process. The schools earn validation by completing a school community self-study, developing a plan to build on evident strengths, addressing areas needing improvement, and assessing ongoing results from implementing the plan.

Tami Staloch-Schultz, chair of the Minnesota School of Excellence Committee, said, “It takes commitment and teamwork to honestly and thoroughly assess areas of strength and at the same time identify a plan for continual growth. The SOE process asks the entire school community – parents, students, staff, administration, and more – to reflect on and celebrate the collaborative work being done in school communities. Schools that receive validation have had important data-driven conversations about what a high-quality learning experience should be for all students and have plans to make that learning experience a reality for many years to come. Honoring the important work of dedicated staff, eager students, and supportive communities is an essential component of becoming a School of Excellence.”

Randolph Elementary is part of the Randolph Public School District and serves over 400 students in grades K-6. Their mission is “Working in partnership with the family and the community, [Randolph] is dedicated to providing a caring, disciplined, and challenging environment that enables students to become life-long learners who value themselves, contribute to their community, and succeed in a changing world.” Randolph Elementary School is a Blue Ribbon School (2011-2012) and has previously achieved the Minnesota School of Excellence award in 2017.

The School of Excellence process uncovered that a major strength of this school is the embodiment of learner-centered leadership and the capitalization on the leadership skills of others. “The elementary students expressed interest in afterschool activities.” The school’s leadership team wrote in their SOE application. Thanks to the leadership of teachers and even a high school student the school started to offer a total of 8 different clubs, lasting one season long (fall, winter, or spring). “During these clubs, elementary students had new learning experiences that they may not necessarily get from a classroom,” their application explained.

Another significant strength of Randolph Elementary is its community engagement. As emphasized in their application, “Randolph Elementary School prides itself on its ability to build strong, meaningful relationships with not only students, but their families as well.

These relationships help support improved academic performance and positive social engagement. The high attendance at all school functions is proof of these strong relationships.” As an example, the leadership team points out, “There is over 90% attendance rate at both fall and spring parent-teacher conferences.”

Because striving for excellence necessitates constant progress, the School of Excellence process also tries to uncover where schools can improve. One area the school would like to continue to grow is building capacity to use knowledge effectively to make decisions. The leadership recognizes that “the school needs to create more opportunities to allow teachers to collaborate and create more interventions to best help students.” One way the school is already doing this is by having a Student Assistant Team (SAT) that meets about once per week to discuss and collaborate. When there is a concern about the academic or social progress of a student, the classroom teacher meets with the SAT to determine interventions. MESPA applauds Randolph’s goal to create more opportunities for


Congratulations to Randolph Elementary under the leadership of Principal Matt Rutledge for achieving the prestigious honor as a School of Excellence.

5 schools achieved recognition as 2023-2024 Minnesota Schools of Excellence:

● Lake Park Audubon Elementary, Lake Park Audubon Independent School District, in Audubon, MN, Principal Craig Bahr

● Randolph Elementary, Randolph Public School District in Randolph, MN, Principal Matt Rutledge

● St. Croix Preparatory Academy, Charter School in Stillwater, Principal Joann Karetov

● South Terrace Elementary, Carlton School District in Carlton, MN, Principal Donita Stepan

● Winsted Elementary, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Public Schools in Winsted, MN, Principal Jennifer Olson