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It's official: Pewaukee's JoAnn Sternke is super superintendent

JoAnn Sternke earns top state honor

Nov. 28, 2012

Pewaukee Schools Superintendent JoAnn Sternke has been named Wisconsin's 2013 Superintendent of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA).

The award was created by WASDA 26 years ago and is known as the highest honor a school system leader can have.

Sternke was nominated by Pewaukee High School Principal Marty VanHulle, who said Sternke's leadership can be seen in the quality team and quality processes she has put in place in Pewaukee. He said that leadership directly correlates to the impressive levels of performance by Pewaukee students.

"(Sternke) is a true servant-leader. She works countless hours to ensure that the district mission of opening the door to each child's future is lived and breathed in our educational community. She governs the district with a personal touch," VanHulle said.

Nominations and recommendations letters are only part of the criteria considered by WASDA.

Applicants are also judged by how successfully they meet the needs of their students. They must demonstrate excellent personal and organizational communication and high professionalism. They must actively participate in local community services and activities. And they must also have a true understanding of regional, national and international issues.

Indeed, Sternke has been busy since her arrival as the superintendent in Pewaukee in 2001.

The Pewaukee public schools currently house 2,632 students; projections continue to show a steady growth.

ACT scores have risen 2 full points in the last 10 years, with the highest ACT scores in the school's history tested last year. More than 99 percent of Pewaukee students graduate, and up to 91 percent of the 2010-2011 graduating class has elected to attend a two- or four-year college.

Under Sternke's tenure, the district has added several programs to enhance student achievement, such as four-year-old kindergarten, full-day elementary foreign language and innovative high school courses such as Mandarin Chinese, green technology, robotics and entrepreneurship.

Under Sternke's leadership, the district has been recognized by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Newsweek magazine. Most notably, Sternke secured the 2010 Wisconsin Forward Award, the highest level of recognition in Wisconsin's Excellence program.

Outside of the schools, Sternke is known to be open, approachable and available to the community. She lives in Pewaukee with her husband, Craig. Their three children all graduated from Pewaukee High School.

Her doctoral degree is in leadership, learning and service through Cardinal Stritch University, where she also serves as a professor and site coordinator for the Masters in Educational Leadership Program and Superintendent Licensure Program.

Sternke stays active in the community by serving on boards for the Rotary Club, Pewaukee Library Board, Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence, Chamber of Commerce, Pewaukee Parent Teacher Organization and Pewaukee Booster Club.

Sternke will represent Wisconsin in the National Superintendent of the Year Program in February 2013. In the meantime, she's been invited to attend the joint WASDA Convention in January, where the 2013 Superintendent of the Year Award will be presented to her.

"I am very proud to be a Pewaukee Pirate, and I am humbled by this recognition. I'm so lucky to live and work in Pewaukee. Serving our community as our superintendent is something for which I am tremendously grateful," Sternke said.

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