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MHS's Carr named Central Minnesota Principal of the Year

This spring, Monticello High School Principal Mike Carr was recognized as the High School Principal of the Year by the Central Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (CMASSP).

Carr, who has served as the MHS Principal since 2012, called it an honor to be selected.

“I know a number of people that have received the award in the past,” said Carr, who’s career has taken him to several Central Minnesota districts. “It’s a really nice honor to be mentioned alongside them.”

Former Monticello High School Assistant Principal John Reeves presented Carr with the award, which is given out annually to a Central Minnesota Principal that has demonstrated excellence in education.

“He’s such a caring individual and a selfless leader,” said Reeves. “His approach with people just really sets a tone for the culture of our building. He has a people-first lens, and always wants to do what’s right by our people.”

Both administrators and students say Carr’s approach at MHS has been instrumental in creating a positive workplace and educational atmosphere.

“Mr. Carr has shaped the high school into an inclusive and fun environment to be in,” said Jacob Keller, a 2020 MHS graduate. He leads by example and sets the tone for his students and staff.”

Keller also praised Carr as dedicated, friendly and caring, noting that his positive attributes have allowed him to positively impact the lives of hundreds of students. 

For Carr, who was driving around Monticello making personal award deliveries to students at the time of this interview, it’s largely all about pursuing a passion. He loves people and that shines through in his conversations and relationships and in the way he treats all stakeholders at the high school. He was also quick to note that this award, and the general success of the high school, simply wouldn’t be possible without all of the great people that inhabit the building daily.

“It’s definitely a reflection of our school and the people that I’m fortunate enough to work with,” said Carr. “We have great students, we have great staff, and a very supportive community. I think those three things are necessary to have a great school, and we’re fortunate enough to have them.”

Carr, who previously worked in St. Cloud, Annandale, and Sartell, noted that this past year was certainly unlike any he’s previously seen in education. But just like every other year, it brought unique challenges and unforeseen moments of brilliance and gratitude. 

“You miss the smiles of your students,” said Carr, of the biggest loss during distance learning. “It’s just not the same seeing them on a computer screen as it is in person every day.”

But in absence of those smiles, staff and students both stepped up to meet the moment and make distance learning largely a success.

“We had so many of our students continue working hard toward the goals they wanted. And our staff worked so hard to deliver the product, finding new and exciting ways to do so,” said Carr. “I really think everyone stepped their game up to get this done, and I’m proud of that.”

Additionally, the 2020 MHS Graduation is one that Carr will also remember.

“I think the way we were able to honor the Class of 2020 is one of my proudest moments in Monticello,” he said. “We were able to find the things we could do, by working together with students, and then we did as many of those things as possible.”

The celebration, and the process of creating it, certainly rang special with the senior class.

“This year's graduation planning was eye opening to how dedicated Mr. Carr is to his job, colleagues, and students,” said Keller. “The administration was able to turn a difficult situation into the highlight of many student's high school years. It takes an incredible amount of leadership to operate an entire school. Mr. Carr's strengths allow him to perform his job with ease.”

In highlighting all of the great people that make this award possible, Carr wanted to specifically shoutout his administrative partners at the high school in Reeves and Activities Director Gary Revening for all the work they do to make MHS a special place.

Reeves, a Monticello graduate himself, took over as the head principal at St. Michael-Albertville High School on July 1.

“I want to thank John,” said Carr. “He’s been a great assistant principal, and I have no doubt that he’ll be a great principal at St. Michael-Albertville.” 

Reeves noted that much of his new position and any future success is owed to his opportunity to learn from the best at MHS.

“It’s been so invaluable to me,” said Reeves. “There’s not much that he hasn’t dealt with or seen and he always has a calm lens and really adds valuable perspective. And he makes sure people know that their job is always secondary to taking care of themselves and their family. He just understands how to make people feel valued and worthwhile.”