March 26, 2021
The Association of Wisconsin School Administrators has named Tina Miller as its 2021 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year and David Beranek as its 2021 Wisconsin Secondary Principal of the Year, awards sponsored by The Meemic Foundation. They were presented with the awards during surprise ceremonies March 25.
Miller, who has served as principal of Howe Elementary School for the past five years, has grounded her leadership in equity and removing barriers to learning for all students. After the closing of a major employer in the community led to hundreds of lost jobs last year, Miller and her team partnered with local healthcare organizations to hold parent events on trauma-informed care, homelessness and self-regulation. This effort reflects Miller’s emphasis on building strong relationships with families and viewing parents as important partners in the learning process.
Over the past five years, Howe Elementary has made great progress in shifting from a rewards and punishment mindset to one that acknowledges that social/emotional learning can be just as important as academic learning. To help foster this change, Miller developed a Positive Behavior Approach team that created a hybrid model based on the school’s behavioral data.
Additionally, Miller has worked to address the needs of staff—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—by partnering with the Wood County Health Department to pilot its Trauma-Informed Care Toolkit. This resource focuses on caregiver capacity and self-care strategies.
“We are excited to announce Tina Miller as this year’s Elementary Principal of the Year, as her focus on equity and removing barriers to student learning has been truly impressive within the Howe school community,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “We are celebrating a school leader who understands the unique needs of students, staff and families, especially at a time when so many are facing enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tina’s ability to recognize and respond to the challenges in her community has made a real, positive impact in the lives of the people she serves.”
Before becoming principal of Howe Elementary in 2016, Miller served as math coach and behavioral specialist at Mead Elementary, also in Wisconsin Rapids. She has also been a charter school grant coordinator, professional development facilitator, Gifted and Talented coach and second-grade teacher in the Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools.
“WRPS is honored to have Ms. Tina Miller tirelessly serving the students, staff and community of Howe Elementary School and our district,” said Craig G. Broeren, WRPS Superintendent. “She is a consistent advocate for her students and staff and has developed and overseen numerous mechanisms to ensure that every student she is responsible for has their needs met to the fullest extent possible. Ms. Miller has had a profound impact on Howe Elementary and our district in a relatively short period of time and has grown as a leader among leaders in nearly every capacity. On behalf of the district, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you for her continued contributions to our schools and community.”
Miller holds a master’s degree in education professional development from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UW-Stevens Point. She received her principal licensure from Viterbo University.
Beranek has served as principal of Marathon High School for the past 21 years. During that time, he has led efforts to encourage students to participate and achieve their highest potential in academics, clubs, and athletics. To do so, he has focused on sharing publicly student achievements in all three areas, with a special emphasis on academics.
Another key aspect of Beranek’s leadership has been hiring and training skilled and dedicated staff members, while providing them with a range of professional development opportunities. Several years ago, he incorporated into the hiring process a stage in which he observes the candidate teach students in a real classroom setting. This has allowed Beranek and his team to hire the very best applicants for each position.
“On behalf of AWSA, I am pleased to recognize David Beranek with the Wisconsin Secondary Principal of the Year Award,” Lynch said. “In his more than two decades of leadership at Marathon High School, David has opened up opportunities for students to explore their talents across a wide variety of academic and co-curricular programs and activities. He has also been a terrific leader of staff, building hiring, training and developing practices that have led to a truly exceptional team of educators at the school. This recognition is well deserved.”
“Dave has a way of building high achievement through the development of positive relationships with his staff and students,” said Rick Parks, Superintendent of the Marathon School District. “By incorporating research, encouragement and humor in his professional approach of involving staff in decision making, he is able to bring out the best in his staff. He continually challenges himself through effort and determination, and lets nothing alter his focus on making a positive impact on students and with his family. He is a quality school leader who has achieved many significant and positive impacts at Marathon High School. I know he will continue to make great contributions to benefit the students and staff in his school.”
Prior to serving as principal of Marathon High School, Beranek was a technology teacher at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School. He also taught in the Menasha School District and Stevens Point School District.
Beranek holds Education Specialist and Master’s degrees in educational leadership, both from Winona State University. He also received a Bachelor’s degree in technology education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
About the Award
Each year, AWSA asks teachers, parents, staff and administrators to nominate principals for the award. The winners are selected by a committee made up of representatives from AWSA, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Wisconsin PTA.
Supported by the Meemic Foundation, the Principal of the Year award recognizes school leaders who have helped drive student learning, foster instructional collaboration and create safe and positive school environments. Recipients are selected based on their dedication to professional excellence, leadership skills and service to their communities.