Krell named director of state principals group
One of America’s best educators is poised to make a big splash with education on a statewide level.
Beginning July 1, Michelle Krell of Blooming Prairie will take on the job as executive director of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA). She currently serves as assistant superintendent with Owatonna Public Schools.
“I’m so excited… this is my dream job,” said Krell, who will be the first female to ever lead the group. “It’s an amazing organization. I want to keep doing the great things they are doing.”
The current director, Jon Millerhagen of Northfield, is retiring in June. Krell said Millerhagen has done a fantastic job with MESPA, and he will be awesome to work with during the transition.
While she said she never anticipated leaving Owatonna, she also knew eight years ago that she wanted to take on the role with MESPA someday. She credits her past six years in Owatonna as preparing her for the new job.
“I am passionate about education and the work we do,” Krell said, noting others have told her that this job is a perfect fit for her.
In her new role, Krell will be representing 1,000 elementary and middle school principals across the state. The job is based in Roseville; however, Krell expects to be on the road traveling extensively throughout Minnesota to meet with principals. She also said one thing COVID-19 taught educators is that they can do their jobs from pretty much anywhere.
One of Krell’s first priorities will be to connect with every principal in Minnesota. She said that will be accomplished through in-person meetings as well as zoom calls. She wants to find schools that are doing innovative work and amplify those successes across the state.
“Strong principals make strong schools,” Krell said. “I believe a lot of great things are happening in public education, and we should share that,” she added.
Krell said she believes in creating trusting and collaborative relationships with all stakeholders. She is committed to supporting and providing a voice for Minnesota principals so that all students can receive the highest quality of education and have equitable access to educational opportunities.
The educator said one of her strongest assets is how she understands the challenges of schools in greater Minnesota.
“I am passionate about leadership,” Krell says. “It feels good to give back and help others be successful. I have a deep desire to pay it forward. This (supporting principals) is my why.”
Krell has been a MESPA member for more than 20 of the past 30 years she has been in education across southern Minnesota. She reflects on her experiences with MESPA and how the organization has impacted her growth as a leader throughout her career.
“The words inspired, supported, valued, united and belonging immediately come to mind,” Krell said. “I am confident that my passion, drive, vision and dedication to supporting principals across the state will strengthen MESPA.”
Krell is widely respected as an enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated public servant to education. In making the announcement of her appointment last week, MESPA said: “She will be a fierce advocate for the needs of principals. As a principal mentor, Michelle has the skills and knowledge to support other administrators in navigating the complex challenges and opportunities of the principalship.”
MESPA added she believes that strong school leadership plays a critical role in student success and is passionate about inspiring, engaging, empowering and supporting principals.
Krell has been with the Owatonna Public Schools at two different times throughout her career. Most recently, she has served as assistant superintendent and director of teaching and learning for the past six years.
Prior to Owatonna, Krell worked as elementary principal for the Kasson-Mantorville school district. During her tenure at K-M, the elementary school was named a Minnesota School of Excellence, which is the highest honor schools can obtain.
Krell’s leadership began taking shape when she was interim principal at Washington Elementary School in Owatonna before becoming principal at Hartley Elementary in Waseca in 2005. She started her career by teaching in Medford and Owatonna.
She has been highly recognized over the years for her commitment to education. In 2014, Krell was chosen as one of 60 principals across the nation as a National Distinguished Principal. She accepted the honor in Washington, D.C. Some of the other big honors include: MESPA Leadership Award in 2012 and Outstanding Central Office Administrator of the Year in 2021. She also led Hartley Elementary in Waseca to become a National Blue Ribbon School.
Krell graduated from Blooming Prairie High School in 1988 and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato.