Perham earns Gold Star from Principals Association

Ehren Zimmerman

Perham High School and Principal Ehren Zimmerman have been awarded the Gold Star from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) for their work in the Diploma Plus 1 Program.

The award is sponsored by Horace Mann, and it is designed to recognize MASSP member schools statewide for the development and support of exemplary and innovative education programs in their school.

“The Star of Innovation award is something we try to do annually if we can find one thing. The association has put that out there for schools to try something new and innovative,” PHS Principal Ehren Zimmerman said. “They often ask that you develop something that other schools emulate and put it into good practice into other schools. We are excited. We have had several Star of Innovation awards, but never the gold one. We are extremely excited about that this year.”

Zimmerman said the idea behind the Diploma Plus 1 Program came about the question of what else comes with leaving with your high school diploma. He said it could be a certification, college credits, an experience in a leadership program or experiences in activities.

“We are trying to have students focus on what is their plus and what is something they can take away from outside their high school diploma for when they leave here,” Zimmerman said. “The bigger part of the idea is having a clear focus when they stay in high school and give them something tangible for when they leave here as well.”

The award is based on the following criteria:

• Applicant must be a member of MASSP

• The degree to which the program demonstrates a positive impact on education and the advocacy of children

• Clear principal leadership in the development and/or implementation of this innovative program

• Creativity and imagination while bringing about positive school change

• How easily this program can be replicated at other schools

The Gold Star Award recipients receive a $250 award to be used at the discretion of the principal. The honorees will be recognized at the MASSP’s Summer Conference.

The Diploma Plus 1 Program was developed to provide students with practical learning opportunities and to be certified in career fields of their interest. One of the goals of Perham High School’s staff is to have the students graduate from PHS meeting all state and local graduation requirements, but also having the Diploma Plus Certifications, which includes: Work Based Learning Experience, Internships and Professional Certifications.

“It is very honorable, and it is not just me as principal. To me, it means our staff is willing to make manageable changes to help best support our students,” Zimmerman said. “To me that is where the pride comes with that our staff is willing to move the needle a bit to help best support the students that we are working with right now. The certification piece is something meaningful that we can do for years to come in a lot of these programs.”