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


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


“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


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.