Laine Larson was not expecting all the praise she received Monday, March 22.

“I’m extremely humbled and really appreciative,” the Brainerd Public Schools superintendent said at Monday’s school board meeting after being recognized for her recent reception of the Kay E. Jacobs Memorial Award from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

The award recognizes excellent leadership and involvement in Minnesota Association of School Administrators and other educational organizations by a female administrator. Larson was honored for her leadership, concern for students and active involvement in professional and community affairs at a statewide recognition ceremony during the association’s virtual spring conference March 11-12.

School board members read words of praise from district teachers and staff members, while peppering in their own gratitude as well.

Staff members expressed gratitude for Larson’s dedication to students and staff; tireless, hard-working nature; infectious smile and warm heart; passion for education and compassion for all those she works with.

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Board member Tom Haglin said he can’t think of a better person to lead the district through the last few years with the referendum, building projects and the COVID-19 pandemic, while Board Chair Bob Nystrom said Larson is one of the best superintendents in Brainerd Public Schools history, with this award serving as the apex to her 38-year career.

Board members Jana Shogren and Charles Black Lance added gratitude from parents’ points of view.

“As a parent, I can tell you it’s very apparent how much you care about everybody, from those of us who sit around this table, to community members, to up and coming students and parents,” Shogren said. “I’ve seen you sitting in the bleachers at a lot of events and going to a lot of activities, and just know that that’s noticed. You’re a very busy person, and the fact that you give all that extra time to come and support our kids is noticed and appreciated.”

Black Lance added: “I believe that I can speak for those future generations of parents and those parents that are living it and breathing right now through the pandemic, through the construction, that years from now, you have set the new standard that people will refer to your leadership as the ‘good old days,’ and I believe that we’re living through that right now.”

Larson accepted the praise but said she would not have been able to do any of it without the team she has around her.

“If we ever think we’re going to do something significant alone, it’s not going to happen,” Larson said. “You need the right team at the right time, and this award is certainly not about me. It’s about that I have been blessed — and I have been richly blessed — with the right people at the right time.”

Larson was hired as Brainerd superintendent in 2016, leading the charge to pass the $205 million bonding referendum in 2018, which led to extensive remodeling of all the district’s facilities and the construction of a new elementary school and performing arts center. Before coming to Brainerd, Larson served as superintendent in Bagley and Thief River Falls. She has also worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent during her 38 years in education.

Larson thanked the school board members, administrative team and all teachers and staff for their hard work and dedication as well.

“To our administrative team, our teachers, our food service workers, our bus drivers — it takes everybody, it takes that entire group of people to make great things happen, and you can’t do it alone,” she said, adding she accepted the award on behalf of all those she works with on a daily basis.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.