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Brainerd Public Schools Employees Receive Above & Beyond Award

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shared with permission from ISD 181 Press Release

Brainerd Public Schools are pleased to present the 2017 employee Above and Beyond Awards.

Isd 181 Above and Beyond

Recipients of this award serve as inspirations not only to the school district community but also to the broader community because they are role models who strive to have a positive impact every day with our young people.

The 2017 Above and Beyond awards went to Natalie Embertson, Adam Extrand, Bob Johnson, and Jessica Wales. The awards were presented on Monday, August 28 at the Brainerd Public Schools all staff meeting.

ISD 181

Natalie Embertson has served as an Early Childhood Family Education teacher for nearly 30 years. Tammy Stellmach, assistant principal at Riverside Elementary, shared, “Natalie is described by colleagues as a highly dedicated, positive, and humble person to have on staff. I can say from personal experience as a parent whose children were fortunate enough have this individual touch their lives, that she is genuine, she is dedicated, and she has a passion for children that is warm and welcoming to all around her.”

Adam Extrand is a teacher at the Brainerd Learning Center with the Middle-Level Alternative Program (MLAP). Jessica Haapajoki, Brainerd Learning Center principal, said, “As educators we sometimes forget what an impact we make on a student. This includes every part of our system. You may think it’s a routine gesture, but to that ‘one’ student, they remember. This nomination came from a student of Adam’s from at least 15 years ago.”


Bob Johnson was a visual arts teacher at Brainerd High School until his death earlier this year. Bob began teaching in Brainerd in the late 1990’s and helped to develop a very successful program in the art department for designing and carving decoys. Andrea Rusk, Brainerd High School principal, quoting from the nominations Bob received, stated, “Bob not only taught students to design, and carve, but he took many of them fishing, to test out their finished products, and he also took them to competitions, to put their decoys up against others who had found this wonderful craft.” Bob’s wife Christle, accepted the award in memory and honor of Bob’s wonderful and committed work in the area of visual arts for his students and our greater community.

Jessica Wales is a special education teacher at Brainerd High School. Heidi Hahn, director of special education at the Paul Bunyan Cooperative, shared, “To feel consistently seen and heard by an adult is one of the greatest gifts a student can receive and can make all the difference in how they go out into the world after high school. I have personally witnessed the connections and relationships Jess is able to build with her students and how that positive relationship acts as a buoy to their ability to be successful.”

The Above and Beyond Awards annually recognize employees who demonstrate a positive attitude that inspires others and consistently go above and beyond what is expected so that students can be successful.

All school district employees are eligible for this award and anyone can nominate. Nominations are gathered throughout the year and selections are made in May. Nomination forms are available at www.isd181.org and should be returned to the principal or leader of each building.

In partnership with the community, Brainerd Public Schools will ensure all students achieve their individual potential by providing the highest quality programs and resources to prepare learners for an ever-changing global society. For more information about Brainerd Public Schools, please see www.isd181.org



About Becky Flansburg

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