Kim Hiel, principal of the School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, has been named 2014 Science and Mathematics Elementary and Middle Level Principal of the Year. The school is in the Robbinsdale district.

The award, a creation of the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, recognizes the importance of fostering lifelong science literacy and honors the role principals play in developing a culture that encourages and celebrates student interest in math and science.

As the 2014 Science and Mathematics Elementary Principal of the Year, Hiel will be recognized by Eric Jolly, president of the Science Museum, during association's awards banquet in Bloomington on Feb. 6.  In addition, her school's students and staff will receive complimentary Science Museum education programming.


The awards committee said it looked for evidence of nominees’ support of professional development and coaching for the teachers in their schools, 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.

Hiel's advocacy for STEAM (science-technology-engineering-arts-math) has helped to make the School of Engineering and Arts a place where every aspect of each day has a STEAM-integrated focus engaging students through observation, inquiry, and problem solving.

Said Cara Rieckenberg, the School of Engineering and Arts program coordinator who nominated Hiel: “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 said. “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. ... 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.”

Hiel has also worked to form partnerships with the community and 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, the school's 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, Centerpoint 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 also 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, a third-grade teacher at Hiel's school.