Each year, the Maple Grove Rotary Club honors a person in the community who exemplifies the values of Rotary — most notably, the organization’s motto of “Service Above Self.”
This year, the award was given to Gretchen Peel for her 40 years of service to the Osseo School District.
Since 1972, Peel has positively impacted the lives of thousands of students and their families, and guided them to succeed in school and in life. During that time she worked in 21 different schools in the district, including elementary, junior high, senior high and the district office, serving as speech-language pathologist, special education building coordinator, instructional assistant, interim director of elementary education and elementary principal at Edgewood and Weaver Lake Elementary schools.
During the past eight years, Peel helped to develop and implement one of the district’s first magnet school programs focusing on STEM education-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. As a result, Weaver Lake Elementary School has won numerous national and state awards as a magnet school of excellence and an outstanding elementary science program, and Peel was named the Science and Math Principal of the Year in 2012 by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association and the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Her impact is equally tied to how she engaged students and their families outside the classroom. Known for fostering a family environment at the elementary schools, Peel could be found welcoming each student to school in the morning, and sending them off each afternoon with an affectionate “Good night.” Peel has also been known to dress up as a banana and read to the students.
Peel and her husband Jon have lived in Maple Grove near Weaver Lake for 38 years. They moved to the area when Weaver Lake Road was paved with dirt, and there was no sewer, gas or city water service. Their two children both attended Osseo schools. They are long time members of the Weaver Lake Conservation Association and Lord of Life Lutheran Church.
Rotary International is comprised of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders in over 200 countries. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. For more information on Rotary International, visit rotary.org. More information on the Rotary Club of Maple Grove is at maplegroverotary.org.