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Administrative Excellence Winners Rise to the Occasion from the Beginning

Melissa Irvin and Angela Knapp started working at Paragon Charter Academy at the same time in 2020, and circumstances surrounding their arrival fast-tracked what is now a strong bond.

Their arrival coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so there was no online training in place to make working from home easier. In addition, Knapp had just moved an hour away and had second thoughts about adding the stress of taking on a new job to an already chaotic time.

Irvin and Knapp walking into award assembly.

“It was sink or swim,” Knapp said. “That really made us a great team from the very beginning.”

Now, four years later they have continued to satisfy the needs of any student, parent, or visitor who comes to Paragon. For their effort, they were named the winners of the Administrative Excellence award as part of the National Heritage Academies (NHA) Excellence Awards.

Knapp and Irvin with award.

“We know each other's job titles, so we don’t ever crash each other's threshold unless we have to,” Irvin said. “We just mesh so well. We both started together at the same time, so we knew our roles and responsibilities and it just went from there. That is something that really does make us different. We had to be really clear in the beginning – ‘you’re going to do this, let me know if you need help.’”

Irvin and Knapp at award assembly.

Irvin, the office administrator, and Knapp, the registrar, collaborate daily to make sure nothing falls through the cracks at Paragon, which has outperformed the local district since 2007-08. Principal Benjamin Kriesch praised Irvin for her energy, positive presence, and initiative, and said that Knapp’s attention to detail, efficiency, and willingness to take on projects are a great benefit to Paragon’s students and staff.

Irvin and Knapp walking into award assembly.

“The teamwork that Angela and Melissa demonstrate is second to none,” he said. “They are a delight.”

Keep up the excellent work, Mrs. Irvin and Mrs. Knapp!

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About Paragon Charter Academy
Paragon Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Jackson, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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