Woonsocket’s Weber and Chamberlain’s Zajic honored by SD School Superintendents Association – Mitchell Republic
The South Dakota School Superintendent Association Board of Trustees recently announced its 2022 Superintendent Awards, naming Woonsocket School District Superintendent Rod Weber as the recipient of the Community Leader of the Year award and Justin Zajic, School District Superintendent. of Chamberlain, Rookie of the Year Award Recipient.
Both will be honored at the annual superintendents conference to be held in July, along with recipients of various other awards from the organization.
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 Woonsocket community since 1999. Weber has been a superintendent, senior director of special education, and activity director since 2003. Weber not only invests in the public school system, it is invested in the very vitality of the community. From coordinating 4th of July community events to building a shared space, Weber works to create a culture in the community that brings his graduates home. Community and school come together as partners through Weber’s leadership and heart. The South Dakota School Superintendent Association is proud to recognize Weber as the recipient of the 2022 Community Leader of the Year Award.
The 2022 Rookie of the Year is Justin Zajic of the Chamberlain Public School District. Zajic is in his second year as superintendent at Chamberlain. He is involved in his school and in the local community. Justin spent his first two years of service listening and doing. He has engaged with the community, identified priorities and invested in projects that strategically connect the school district with workforce development. Zajic is committed to the students, staff, and community of Chamberlain. He continues to develop partnerships and relationships to provide opportunities for all. The South Dakota School Superintendent Association is proud to recognize Zajic as the recipient of the 2022 Rookie of the Year Award.
The 2022 Outstanding Superintendent is Steve Willard of the Belle Fourche Public School District. Willard has served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent throughout South Dakota since 1979. Willard has served as an administrator in the Belle Fourche Public School District for the past 22 years as Superintendent of Schools since 2008. As Superintendent of Schools , Willard has been an advocate for the students and community of Belle Fourche.
He is a leader in career and technical education not only for Belle Fourche students, but also as a model for developing partnerships throughout the state. Steve has been creative and innovative in financial planning to meet the unique needs of his community. Additionally, Willard serves on the board of trustees of Western Dakota Technical School and the State Board of Educational Standards. The South Dakota School Superintendent Association is proud to recognize Willard as the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Superintendent Award.
The 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipient is Don Kirkegaard. Kirkegaard retires in 2022 after 41 years in teaching. Kirkegaard began his teaching and coaching career in 1981 at Bristol. He was Principal and Business Director at Bristol and Britton in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994 he took up his first superintendence at Britton. Kirkegaard served at Britton until he accepted the position of school superintendent for the Meade School District in 2011.
In 2018, he served as South Dakota Secretary of Education before moving to West Bend, Wisconsin. Kirkegaard returned to the Meade Public School District in 2020 to complete his term in the district. In addition to serving in his local school district, Kirkegaard served the state of South Dakota for 11 years on the State Board of Education. Additionally, he has served on local, state and national committees often as chairman.
Kirkegaard has dedicated his professional life to public school students in South Dakota and the South Dakota School Superintendent Association is proud to recognize Kirkegaard as a recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Service Award.
The recipient of the 2022 Innovator of the Year award is Jennifer Lowery. Lowery has been a teacher, coach, manager and superintendent for the past 17 years. Lowery has been Superintendent of Tea Area Public Schools for 10 years. As Superintendent of Schools, Lowery worked with her team to create STEM Education JK-12. The district embraced the launch of the Lead The Way project for elementary and the PLTW gateway for middle school students by aligning with the high school vocational and technical education career groups. She led Tea Area’s strategic plan by building 78 elementary classrooms over the past 10 years.
Tea Area focuses on the science of improvement and is a model district in implementing improvement cycles in their classrooms to empower both their students and staff. The South Dakota School Superintendent Association is proud to recognize Lowery as our 2022 Innovator of the Year Award recipient.