Bridgewater Principal Nancy Antoine is one of three Minnesota elementary leaders nominated for the National Distinguished Principal award.

Antoine, past president of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, was nominated by Chris Bjerklie, principal at J.A. Hughes Elementary in Red Lake Falls Public Schools, and president of the association’s Northern Division.

A press release states Antoine has been nominated multiple times for the award. She has served as past president of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association, and was appointed during Gov. Mark Dayton to the Board of School Administrators, a group that hears complaints levied against school administrators from around the state. She has also served on the committee that selects the Minnesota State Teacher of the Year.

“Nancy has the ability to support and bring out the best in her staff,” Bjerklie said. “She works hard to partner with parents so that Bridgewater school community can support their children. It is impossible to not recognize the joy her students bring her on a daily basis.”

Antoine reportedly noted she has helped mentor five teachers who have become principals themselves. Two current teachers reportedly hold administrative licenses, and one more is reportedly in the process of doing so.

“The teachers are willing to take risks and try new ideas knowing that they have my total permission and support,” she said. “I pride myself in providing authentic learning opportunities for these teachers, and they are ready to lead their own building when they leave Bridgewater.”

Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Matt Hillmann and School Board Chair Julie Pritchard spoke highly of Antoine’s work in the release.

“She was diligent in supporting the nutritional needs of families,” Hillmann said. “She understood the isolation that the lockdowns caused and distributed care packages to students’ and families’ homes while maintaining a safe distance. This service was second nature to Nancy.”

Pritchard agreed.

“Nancy never shies away from candid discussions about areas that can be improved,” she said. “She whole-heartedly embraces these opportunities because in her words, ‘It will make a difference for kids.’ Beyond the board room walls, I have seen first-hand Nancy’s leadership style … she takes the time to get to know her staff, parents and students. Her warm and friendly personality serves to create a welcoming environment where everyone can thrive.”

Nominated principals were reviewed by a statewide selection committee, including representatives from all of the association’s 12 geographical decisions; 2020 National Distinguished Principal Bret Domstrand; and Selection Committee Chair Dawn Brown.

Other nominees for the award include St. Paul-based Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy Principal Bobbie Johnson and Brooklyn Park-based Monroe Elementary School Principal Amy Oliver.

Antoine and the other nominated principals will be interviewed May 7 to determine the award-winner.

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