Update: After being named Central Minnesota’s Principal of the Year last May, last week STMA Middle School West Principal, Andy Merfeld, went on to receive the 2019 Middle School Principal award for the state of Minnesota from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.
Later this year, Merfeld will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored for his award at the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ annual event. From all state winners, three will be chosen as contenders for the National Principal of the Year title, and one will be chosen as the winner.
“He is a visionary leader, he’s very collaborative,” said Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault. “I think one of the most special things about Andy is that he always puts kids first, no matter what. I can’t say enough good things about Andy, and this is a very well-deserved award.”
From May 2018:
St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West principal, Andy Merfeld, has been an integral part of the school district’s administrative team since before Middle School West even existed. Now, he’s been named Principal of the Year by the Central Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (CMASSP).
“Mr. Merfeld is an exceptional principal,” Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said. “He always puts students first and works tirelessly to build strong, positive relationships with students, staff, and families.”
Merfeld said he followed his family’s footsteps into education. His father was the superintendent of the Ely school district, and his mother was a teacher.
“Initially I thought I would go a completely different route,” Merfeld said. “And then as I matured and got older and realized the impact [my dad] had on people, I ended up going the education route.”
Merfeld began his career teaching social studies at what was then STMA’s only middle school, and while teaching he also pursued his administrative license. He became the middle school’s assistant principal after three years of teaching, and then moved into the head principal role at Middle School West upon its opening in 2009. This is his 16th year with the school district.
Beyond serving as the middle school principal, Foucault said Merfeld is also a member of the district finance advisory committee and a negotiator for the principal union. He recent co-chaired a work group aimed at expanding math opportunities for high-achieving middle school students.
“He readily volunteers for extra responsibilities and is involved in a multitude of district initiatives,” Foucault said. “His high degree of integrity and professionalism are admirable and make him an extraordinary educator.”
Middle School West’s assistant principal, Lynn Jennissen, has worked with Merfeld since the school opened, and he said the school’s motto of Respect, Honesty, Citizenship and Safety also reflects the way Merfeld lives his life.
“He’s always working to make sure those things are happening [at school],” Jennissen said, “but you can see how he lives his life that it’s not just things he says. He’s well-respected as a leader amongst leaders, and a lot of principals look to him for guidance.
He’s really open and honest, and he loves feedback,” he added. “Those are all things that make people gravitate towards him.”
The Central Minnesota Association of Secondary Principals includes over 200 secondary school administrators from 18 counties and several additional cities. The organization chooses principals to honor based on the following criteria: personal excellence, collaborative leadership, curriculum, instruction and assessment, and personalization.
Merfeld will now be considered for the Minnesota Principal of the Year Award along with the state’s other divisional winners. He will be recognized for this achievement at the CMASSP’s summer conference.
“I’m not a person who really likes attention, but I do appreciate the recognition,” Merfeld said. “The award is representative of more than just me. It’s a great community, great schools and great people to work with everywhere around me.”