Melissa Herek of Elroy named Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year

by Contributed

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, WI, 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.