Byron Primary School receives 'school of excellence' designation

“It really has demonstrated the wonderful things that are happening, not only for the school district but for the community as well," Principal Amanda Durnen said.

Byron Primary School
Students Edwin Severino-Goodsell, left, and Monica Payton race marbles during a Triple P day at Byron Primary School on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Byron. Friday's Triple P day was one of three the school held this school year. On Triple P days students pick three activities they feel passionate about that allow them to be collaborative, learn about critical thinking and help them learn through play, said teacher Tom Whalen, who helped come up with the idea. Byron Primary was recently recognized as a Minnesota School of Excellence by the Minnesota Elementary Principals' Association and the Minnesota Department of Education.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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BYRON — Byron Primary School has a brand new feather for its cap.

Recently, it was recognized as a school of excellence. Designated by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association, Byron was one of only three schools in the state to receive the recognition this year.

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“It’s a great recognition not only for the primary school but also for the district,” Superintendent Mike Neubeck said. “I think we’re already very strong in many different areas, but we always have to improve, and I think this is a great way for their staff to say ‘Here’s how we can be even better for our kids.’”

A press release on the program said it “promotes excellence through a rigorous evaluation process that showcases dynamic schools of the 21st century (currently 202 designated schools).”

The school will be able to hold the designation for seven years. The primary school serves students in pre-K through the second grade.


Byron Public Schools will host a celebration of the award at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 26.

“We were in our fifth year of operation, and after five years of settling into the school, it felt like a good time to really look at what makes our school unique,” Primary School Principal Amanda Durnen said about when they began the process. “Unless you really do a deep dive into the routines and operations of the building, you really don’t see some of those really unique characteristics that you do offer.”

Durnen said the process of getting recognized allowed them to acknowledge the things that were already going well and also improve on the things that needed attention.

Getting the recognition was no fast process, however. The school was evaluated on six different standards: learning centered, diverse communities, 21st Century learners, quality instruction, knowledge and data, and community engagement.

A working group that consisted of parents, teachers, and school officials met for a year working to identify everything that needed to be addressed.

“It’s basically a self study that involves the school community and school families,” Durnen said. “It really has demonstrated the wonderful things that are happening, not only for the school district but for the community as well.”

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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