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2014 Science and Math Principal of the Year

Kim Hiel fosters science and math literacy at School of Engineering and Arts

(St. Paul, MN -- December 16, 2013) – Kim Hiel, principal of the School of Engineering and Arts (SEA), Golden Valley, in Robbinsdale Area Schools, has been named 2014 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 (MESPA), 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 Kim Hiel earned this honor? Her advocacy for STEAM (science-technology-engineering-arts-math) has helped to make the School of Engineering and Arts a premiere school where every aspect of each day has a STEAM-integrated focus engaging students through observation, inquiry, and problem solving.

To quote Cara Rieckenberg, the SEA Program Coordinator who nominated Hiel for the award: “Kim Hiel was integral in opening the School of Engineering and Arts. Her constant questioning of the status quo, and challenging ‘What if?’, has created a school with a wait list of hundreds of students trying to get a seat.”

“Kim leads in the most authentic of ways, through example,” Rieckenberg continued. “Often times she can be found in the classroom, the Engineering Lab or the Outdoor Learning class spaces – learning, working, and getting dirty right along with the students and teachers. This modeling helps all Engineering and Arts community members realize the importance of STEAM and that it is not just an extra for special occasions. She is not a ‘desk jockey’ principal; rather she can be found throughout the school at any given time, sometimes even co-teaching a lesson with teachers or facilitating small groups in instruction or exploration. Every student knows her, and she knows each one of them.”

 Another part of Hiel’s vision is to form partnerships with the community and SEA students. “She has made it her mission to have our students involved with real-life experiences and connect their learning to the outside world,” said Kelley DeLaCruz, SEA Administrative Intern. “We have had partnerships with the University of MN National Society of Black Engineers, MN Turkey Growers Association, employees from Turck Engineering, MN Arboretum, Wold Engineers, Wiggle Your Toes, Centerpointe Energy, and many more. It’s important to note that not only did students learn from these different partnerships, they then applied their knowledge through projects using STEAM tools.”

Hiel allows her staff to take part in numerous professional activities to support their learning and continual growth. “Kim provided a week long training at the Science Museum of MN Science House for our staff to come together to become rooted in the STEAM philosophy,” said Anne Norsted, SEA third grade teacher.

“Kim Hiel is changing the world and she’s changing it for the better!” said Tobi Kreifels, SEA first grade teacher. “She encourages and empowers everyone in the SEA community. Kim took a group of students and staff who barely knew each other and orchestrated a community of learners. This community is based on her high ideals and the STEAM philosophy.”

“She is welcoming at all times and to all people,” Kreifels continued. “She has weekly dance parties and ends every school assembly with a declaration of ‘Let’s dance!’ Her enthusiasm is contagious. She will have an entire school of children and staff dancing. Kim Hiel creates dreams for her students and staff.”

As the 2014 Science and Mathematics Elementary Principal of the Year, Hiel will be recognized by Dr. Eric J. Jolly, president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, during the MESPA Institute Awards Banquet on Thursday, February 6, 2014, in Bloomington, MN.  In addition, SEA students and staff will receive complimentary Science Museum education programming. 

Kim Hiel
School of Engineering and Arts
Golden Valley
Robbinsdale Area Schools

“Kim Hiel is changing the world and she’s changing it for the better!”

For more information
on the award and selection criteria, visit MESPA Science and Mathematics Principal of the Year.