A School of Excellence
The hard work had been already done when Nick Jurrens took over as principal at Triton Elementary last summer. His predecessor successfully coordinated all the grunt work for a top state honor, leaving Jurrens with the easy job of putting on a party to celebrate.
On Friday, students and staff celebrated Triton’s award of being named a School of Excellence by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association. Triton actually found out about the award last August, but waited until the end of the school year to throw a big bash.
“It is obvious your community really values schools,” said Jon Millerhagen, executive director of MESPA in presenting the award last week. Eight schools across the state received the top honor. It is the third time Triton has earned the prestigious award since 2001. Only 197 schools have been presented with the award since the beginning of the program in 1986.
Triton has been singled out as one of the state’s best because of its reading intervention program that has been embedded into the curriculum. Another major reason Triton stands out is because of its anti-bullying program called Here Everyone Respects Others (HERO).
Several fifth grade students gave testimonies about what makes Triton such a special place for them. “We received this award for all our work we did, all of the education that our teachers have given us, and for all of the creativity of the students,” said Madeline. “We shine in all the opportunities we have.”
Christian shared various reasons why he feels Triton is a great school. “We have many different kinds of sports. Next there are plenty of computers to help us with our work. Finally we have great field trips that aid our education,” he said. “I am glad that Triton is where I am receiving an amazing education,” he added.
“Triton is unforgettable,” Olivia Weber said. “Triton’s staff and students are caring and helpful. I think they are caring and helpful because they are always there to help you when you need it,” she told the audience. “Teachers here don’t yell at you when you fail or do something wrong.”
Former principal Nancy Stucky, who did most of the legwork in nominating Triton for the honor, came back to join in the celebration. She referred to Triton’s students as being amazing. “I want to thank you for learning because learning is what we are all about,” she said. “I thank you for loving, serving and caring,” she added.
“We’re like family,” Stucky said. “If students feel like we’re like family, we have definitely done something right at Triton.”
Jurrens said the School of Excellence recognition has allowed him to make a smooth transition into the district. “When you take over, there are a lot of unknowns,” he said. “It’s reassuring to know you’re in a good place.”
A graduate of Kasson-Mantorville, Jurrens returned home to teach fifth grade math at K-M for 12 years. He left K-M to become principal at Lyle for one year before joining Triton last summer. “It’s like being home,” Jurrens said.
“Triton is excellent because of its students,” Jurrens said.
He noted Triton’s staff played a tremendous role in completing the application process for the honor. Jurrens said he is proud to be leading a group of teachers that are proven leaders. “It’s an extreme honor to take over at Triton,” he added.