BIG RAPIDS \u2013 Collaboration is one of the strengths of the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, according to Superintendent Curt Finch, and he stuck to the collaborative mindset when accepting his 2013 Region 3 Superintendent of the Year award from the Michigan Association of School Administrators. \u201cIt\u2019s a reflection on my administrative team and what we are trying to do to help local schools,\u201d Finch said. \u201cThe best part is it comes from your peers. Being recognized by the (MOISD) board president and local superintendents is cool.\u201d Keith Konarska, superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools, shares the 2013 Region 3 title with Finch. MASA awards the title annually, and regional winners move on to the possibility of state-level awards. Finch and Konarska were honored Friday at the Kent Intermediate School District Conference Center. \u201cI was looking at things we had done in the ISD, particularly in the area of collaboration with the local (school districts) and changing our approach to work with them in a more supportive ways,\u201d said MOISD Board of Education President Rick Christner, who nominated Finch for the award. One area of collaboration Christner highlighted was the MOP Co-op, which allows local districts to share the cost of maintenance, technology and other itinerant staff as needed. The program started under Finch\u2019s leadership, and other ISDs are starting to adopt their own model. The MOISD includes six school districts and enrolled more than 8,800 students in 2011-12. Finch has been MOISD superintendent for eight years. MASA selected the Superintendent of the Year from ISDs and local school districts in Region 3, which includes the following counties: Ottawa, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola. It is unique for an ISD superintendent to be chosen for the distinction along with a local school district superintendent. \u201cIt makes us more visible in the immediate West Michigan area and in the rest of the state, in terms of the types of things we try to do at the MOISD,\u201d Christner said. Lynn Gullekson, who has been superintendent of Crossroads Charter Academy for two years, was pleased to hear Finch received the Region 3 honor. He initially met Finch in a leadership class about 10 years ago, before the two started working together in Mecosta County. \u201cHe leads by example. He is very service-oriented,\u201d Gullekson said of Finch. \u201cI also admire his creativity. He takes challenges and turns them into opportunity.\u201d Gullekson also cited the MOP Co-op as a positive step MOISD has taken under Finch\u2019s leadership. Finch\u2019s emphasis on the \u201cgood-to-great\u201d philosophy of continued improvement has benefited local districts, Gullekson added. \u201cHe\u2019s a man of great character and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him,\u201d he said. Finch sees the award as validation that the MOISD is working in the right direction to support local districts as well as the community. When ISDs were established in Michigan, their main responsibility was pupil accounting. Now, the MOISD is known for services such as the MOP Co-op, the career center, professional development resources and special education classes. Moving forward, Finch predicts the state will rely on ISDs even more to connect community agencies and other resources. \u201cWe just try to do the right thing, do what\u2019s best for the kids, hire the right staff and help the local districts \u2013 hopefully the results reflect our mission,\u201d Finch said.