South Dakota School Superintendents Association names 2022 award recipients

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Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 9:31 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota School Superintendent Association is once again honoring school district leaders across the state with its annual Superintendent Awards.

Executive Board members announced the winners Thursday. The following is a list of the winners, along with some of their accomplishments as described by the association.

The 2022 Outstanding Superintendent is Steve Willard of the Belle Fourche Public School District, according to a release from the organization. Steve has served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent across South Dakota since 1979. He is a leader in Career and Technical Education not only for the students in Belle Fourche but as a model in partnership development across the state.

The 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipient is Don Kirkegaard. Kirkegaard is retiring in 2022 after serving 41 years in education. Kirkegaard began his career as a teacher and coach in 1981 in Bristol. In 1994, he took his first superintendency in Britton. Kirkegaard served in Britton until accepting the position of superintendent for the Meade School District in 2011..

The 2022 Community Leader of the Year Award recipient is Rod Weber. Weber has served as a teacher, coach, principal, activity director, and superintendent for the community of Woonsocket since 1999. Weber not only invests in the public school system he is vested in the community’s very vitality. From the coordination of the community’s 4th of July events to the construction of shared space, Rod is working to create a culture in the community that brings their graduates home.

The 2022 Innovator of the Year Award recipient is Jennifer Lowery. She has served as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent over the past 17 years. Jennifer has been the superintendent at Tea Area Public Schools for the past 10 years. As superintendent, Lowery has worked with her team to create S.T.E.M. education K-12.

The 2022 Rookie of the Year is Justin Zajic of the Chamberlain Public School District. Zajic is in his second year as superintendent in Chamberlain. He has engaged with the community, identified priorities, and invested in projects which connect the school district strategically to workforce development.

These indivudals will be honored at the annual Superintendent Conference held in July 2022.

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