Village of Pewaukee - JoAnn Sternke is retiring from her position as superintendent of the Pewaukee School District after 17 years of service to the district.
Sternke will step down June 30, 2017 according to Pewaukee School Board Vice President Jeanne Witthun. The board was expected to make an official vote on her retirement Monday, Dec. 5. District employees received word of the announcement Friday, Dec. 2, Witthun said.
"We're very sad to see her leave," Witthun said. "We wish her good luck in her future."
Witthun added, "She was very proactive and very progressive thinking and really brought the Pewaukee district into the future academically, and really brought our academic expectations up much higher. She always had a positive personality, and was very easy to get along with."
Pewaukee School Board President Brian Kammers also showed appreciation of Sternke's efforts. In an email to district employees, Kammers wrote, "A single email cannot contain all the ways in which JoAnn has impacted our district and her impact on the children that have been entrusted to our care for the last 17 years. She has developed an organization and a culture that focuses on the needs of our students and continually strives to improve in the pursuit of our educational mission."
Sternke expressed gratitude for the time she served in her role as superintendent.
"It has been an honor to serve the Pewaukee community and the Pewaukee School District in this role," Sternke said in a written statement. "I count myself lucky to live here, to work her, and to have had our children receive a quality education in this fine district. I am blessed."
Sternke added in the statement that she was thankful then board president Ron Frea and the school board took a chance on her in 2001, as someone "with a lot of heart and drive but limited superintendent experience."
"Since then you have supported our mission, as well as my vision for and management of the Pewaukee School District. I say throughout the nation as I speak that I work for the best board of education in the country. This is true," Sternke said.
Kammers also added in his email to employees that "speaking to her integrity as an educational leader, she wants to go out on top, leaving the district in wonderful shape with our magnificent staff and our incredible administration. She feels it is time to allow someone else the opportunity to lead the district."
Sternke added in an email to district staff, "Now I look forward to more time with family, some travel, more golf & time to read, and possibly some opportunities to use my passion for education in new ways but with a less demanding schedule."
Sternke, along with Kettle Moraine Superintendent Pat Deklotz, attended a summit on personalized learning Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C., where they learned of best practices from districts across the nation. The Pewaukee School District earned a 79, or an "exceeds expectations" rating from the Wisconsin DPI for the 2015-16 school year.
Sternke also has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including recognition as the Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year in 2013, the College of Education Alumnus of the Year by Marquette University, Person of the Year by Pewaukee Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and identified by the Milwaukee Business Journal as a Woman of Influence.
The school board is currently discussing the process for Sternke's replacement.