Jolene Herfel, who has worked as an assistant principal at STMA High School for the past nine years, was recently awarded Central Minnesota Division’s Assistant Principal of the Year award. The Central Division of the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) includes schools over an 18-county area of central Minnesota.
Herfel initially accepted her award at the organization’s Central meeting last spring, and was also honored at MASSP’s summer conference last month.
“Ms. Herfel models personal excellence, professional growth and collaborative leadership,” school board member Jennifer Peyerl said in a formal recognition of her award. “She strives to improve curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as develop and promote positive learning environments where students have continued access to opportunities for success.”
“She is a pivotal member of our team,” High School Principal Bob Driver added, who added that he, Herfel and assistant principal Steve Scherber are going into their 10th school year working together. “It’s a delight to have her working with us, we learn a lot of things from Jolene, and we work well as a team together.”
Driver said Herfel has been instrumental in setting up many programs at the high school, with one example being a mentorship program for ninth grade students called Freshmen Connections.
As the high school’s student population grew, Herfel saw a chance to give upperclassmen a leadership opportunity while helping incoming freshmen to make connections with older students.
“The program has been incredibly successful,” Herfel said, noting that in its first year the program attracted 60-80 upperclassmen who wanted to mentor, and they now have 250 students interested three years later.
The mentors act as tour guides during open house, and there are approximately three mentors per homeroom class to guide students on upcoming activities, how to get involved in the school, and other issues such as course registration.
Herfel also spends time focusing on students’ academic success and community engagement opportunities such as the Veteran’s Day program and having students volunteer in the community.
“She’s been a great asset to our school,” Driver said.
“It is a phenomenal place to work,” said Herfel, who has been with the district since 2000 as a teacher and as an administrator for the past nine years. “It’s a very, very neat place to be and I appreciate your support along with everyone else’s support.”