Competition honors innovation in Minnesota
Irondale High School is the winner of the sixth annual Local Government Innovation Awards and therefore the recipient of a $25,000 grant.
Toward the end of last year, it was announced that Irondale was the top winner representing the school district category for its Early College program. The New Brighton high school was among 34 school entries from across the state.
Irondale launched the Early College program in fall 2012. It is the first school in Minnesota to offer a comprehensive early college high school program that allows students in the academic middle the opportunity to earn a free, two-year associate degree.
In addition to a school category, there is also a city category and a county category.
St. Paul was named the city winner for its Emergency Medical Services Academy that provides an opportunity for minority, low-income and at-risk youth to be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians.
Dakota County was named the county winner for its Jail Re-Entry Assistance Program, which strives to increase the probability of long-term success for individuals who are exiting jail by providing community-based services tailored to each former offender’s needs.
A public vote determined which one of the three finalists would receive the grant, and individuals could vote online and via text Jan. 7-15.
The winner was announced on Jan. 16 at an awards ceremony at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Mounds View School Board Chair Jon Tynjala accepted the award on the district’s behalf.
“Every once in a while, if you’re lucky, you get to be part of something that has the potential to be a game changer, and that’s what Early College is,” he said. “This program has the potential to change the future trajectories of the lives of students who may not have thought college was even a possibility for them.
“We did not do this for the attention that we have received,” he added. “But it is, nonetheless, an affirmation of the work that has been done so far. And for that, we are grateful, and we thank you.”
“We were very honored to be selected as the winner,” Irondale High School Principal Scott Gengler told Sun Focus. “There were a lot of great innovations out there from not just schools, but cities and counties. “We’re very proud that Irondale’s Early College program was selected as the top innovator. We’re very thankful for all the votes that we received to earn that honor.”
Gengler said the program is opening more doors for students to post-secondary success; students have more access to college level rigor and support programs and are developing better habits of mind.
“It speaks to the alignment from the School Board and their vision, all the way down to the work that’s happening in the classroom,” he said of earning the grant. “When that work is aligned, kids will benefit as a result, and I think the school community is really seeing the positive results from that work.”
Supt. Dan Hoverman said the award is well deserved.
“I think the Early College program is considered to be innovative, particularly on the focus on students in the middle. From my perspective, that was a big reason why Irondale was selected.
“The staff is off to a very good start with it,” he said of the program. “I think we’re poised for it to be a successful first year, and I think that will set the foundation for success in the upcoming years.”
For more information on the Early College program, visit moundsviewschools.org and go to Irondale’s homepage.
Contact Kassie Petermann at [email protected]