Moeller recognized for fostering science and math literacy at St. Joseph school
Diane Moeller, principal of Kennedy Community School, St. Joseph, has been named 2013 Science and Mathematics Elementary and Middle Level Principal of the Year.
Created through a partnership between the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, the award recognizes the vital importance of fostering lifelong science literacy and honors the key role principals play in developing a culture that encourages and celebrates student interest in math and science.
In reviewing applications for this year’s award recipient, the award committee looked for evidence of the nominees’ support of professional development and coaching for the teachers in their schools, active partnerships with other organizations, efforts to apply math and science standards to curriculum and provide support materials, support of out-of-school as well as in-school experiences, inclusion of families, and evidence of other creative ways of fostering interest in math and science.
How has Diane Moeller earned this honor? She has a sincere passion for science. To quote Jodie Kragness, a Kennedy third-grade teacher who nominated Moeller for the award, “Diane Moeller has made science a living part of our school. With her leadership, we built a new green school in 2008. But it’s not just the building that has earned us awards such as the Green Ribbon School Award from the U.S. Department of Education, or LEED certification at the gold level, it’s also how the staff uses the building to teach science concepts. Diane has created a culture of excitement for staff, students and families in the area of science and math. Our school itself is a lab for our students, both indoors and out.”
Moeller strives to have students become critical thinkers and be able to interact with the world. She believes in creating a science passion in students through inquiry into everyday events. Kragness said, “Diane will often present students with a fun discrepant event, and encourage them to figure out what scientific principle is responsible.”
Moeller works with the community to bring science alive for students and to help the community understand as well. For example, the district (led by Moeller) partnered with St. John’s University Arboretum personnel to embed science standards at each grade level into activities at the arboretum – so all students can participate in field trips there. Classroom materials are also provided to support science instruction, including hands-on materials, as well as leveled readers at each grade level. She’s also the science curriculum chair for the St. Cloud school district.
Finally, the school itself is green. How many schools can say the school building itself was constructed and built with the goal of using it to teach students? This was Moeller’s vision. “Our community has learned a great deal from our state-of-the-art school,” Moeller said. “Students conduct tours highlighting the green elements of our school and how they work. Families and community members are amazed at how well-versed the students are in environmental and sustainability concepts.”
As the 2013 Science and Mathematics Elementary Principal of the Year, Moeller will be recognized by Dr. Eric Jolly, president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, during the MESPA Institute Awards Banquet on Thursday, Feb. 7 in Bloomington, Minn. In addition, Kennedy Community School students and staff will receive complimentary Science Museum education programming.