August 18, 2021

The Grinnell-Newburg Community School District is the 2021 recipient of the “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award from the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation (CDAF). The G-N district received multiple nominations citing the staff and administration’s dedicated response to COVID-19 and the derecho and its care for students and families.

The “Leave It Better” award commemorates the August birthday of the late philanthropist Claude W. Ahrens. More than 300 area individuals, groups and organizations have been honored by the annual recognition program of those making a difference in the community.

CDAF President and CEO Julie Gosselink said the Grinnell-Newburg School District was selected for this year’s “Leave It Better” award because of the “multiple nominations that outlined the district’s many, tireless efforts to ensure that students’ education and our learning community’s needs were met during this unprecedented time. Everyone associated with the G-N district this past year is deserving of this award for ensuring safe, continuous learning.”

In March 2020, as the pandemic emerged and surged, the district acted quickly to address the need for virtual learning and student safety, as well as families’ food insecurity and lack of internet access. Then in August, as preparations began for the 2020-21 school year, the derecho damaged district facilities, requiring additional layers of “all hands on deck” response from staff and administrators.

G-N Superintendent Janet Stutz said the Leave It Better recognition “reaffirms that together our district continues to go ‘above and beyond’ to ensure our students’ and families’ needs are met in order for children to learn and grow.”

“Whatever it takes, our staff rallies for families. Teachers collaborated and implemented creative ways to teach students in school and online while keeping them safe. Our maintenance department saved us time and money after the derecho with their expertise and quick action in which the loss of property would have been substantially more.”

“The community rallied to ensure that students stayed connected during the pandemic–businesses opened their WIFI and the Grinnell-Newburg School Foundation assisted families to gain internet access. I still find it incredible how our food service team organized and implemented a drive thru service and delivery to any family that needed food.”

“The coordination to make all of this happen–from our administrative team to every employee in the district–was remarkable. These are just a few examples of the above and beyond efforts that ensured our learning community prevailed during constantly changing circumstances. I am very grateful to the Ahrens Foundation for honoring the Grinnell-Newburg School District and feel extremely fortunate to be part of this amazing team in the Grinnell community which placed the needs of students and families first,” Stutz said.

The G-N District will receive a $5,000 grant and traveling trophy from CDAF as part of the foundation’s annual recognition. Stutz said the staff will discuss the best use for the monetary award, and the trophy will be displayed in the front window of the G-N District office at 925 Broad Street. Information about the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District is available at