NEENAH, Wis. (June 3, 2022) – St. Mary Catholic Schools (SMCS) honored faculty and staff at the year-end celebration on Friday, June 3, for their continual leadership, service, faith and innovation. The awards ceremony, which took place at Zephyrs Field, recognized career milestones and retirements, as well as four annual SMCS awards: St. John Baptist de la Salle Outstanding Teacher Award, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Award for Positive Influence, St. Anne Award for SMCS Spirit and St. Isidore of Seville Award for Promising Innovation.
In order to be considered for one of the awards, recipients had to be nominated by multiple SMCS students, parents and/or staff. The final essays and nominations were assessed by an administrative team who prayerfully considered who best demonstrated the values and merit of each award.
The St. John Baptist de la Salle Outstanding Teacher Award was awarded to Kristina (Tina) Olsen, a second grade teacher at St. Gabriel Elementary. This award recognizes excellence in teaching, with a focus on creativity, rapport with students, positive attitude and high-quality instruction. It is awarded to a current SMCS teacher who inspires students to reach their highest potential in all things from academics to extracurricular activities.
“She is always looking for the positive in her students, has an excellent rapport with all of them and starts each day with a smile and a positive attitude. (She’s) always willing to help out in any way needed and has a calm and quiet assurance around the students. She never complains about extra duties and is always willing to take on more,” the nominations said, in part. “Her students are excited to be there and eager to learn. She has the perfect balance of making learning fun while keeping the kids on task and engaged. She always has a smile on her face and a kind word to brighten not only her students’ days, but the staff and parents as well.
The St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Award for Positive Influence was bestowed on Jennifer (Jenny) Simon, an instructional aide at St. Margaret Mary Elementary. This award is given to a current SMCS staff member who makes an exceptional difference in the lives of students and their families, creating an environment that allows students to thrive and grow both academically and personally.
“Mrs. Simon goes above and beyond with making sure that students, teachers and staff are cheerful. She makes sure students are learning and growing. She leads the students down the right path and pushes them because she knows they can do it,” the nominations mentioned. “She is willing to do whatever is needed to be done and is the most kind, happy, positive and hard-working person. Jenny truly wants to see each child reach their full potential academically, spiritually and personally. She brings such joy and happiness to the staff and students each day with her bubbly personality and big smile.”
The St. Anne Award for SMCS Spirit was awarded to Joseph (Joe) Roth, the Director of Buildings and Grounds at SMCS. This award is presented to a current SMCS staff member who consistently represents all SMCS schools in a positive and enthusiastic manner. The recipient of this award actively shares and upholds the SMCS mission and vision and supports the SMCS Catholic school system from preschool to grade 12.
“Joe goes above and beyond in his work for our schools every day. His to-do list is likely rather long each day, but if you need help with something, he will ensure the problem is fixed in a very timely manner. He approaches any and all situations with a creative mind and a positive attitude. He is a true joy to work with and our school system is made better each and every day because of him,” the nominations mentioned. “He is positive, happy and so efficient. (He’s) on top of our needs in our buildings and the first to lend a hand when needed.”
The St. Isidore of Seville Award for Promising Innovation was given to Justina Plemon, the instructional technology coordinator for SMCS. This award is presented to a current SMCS staff member who has been with SMCS for five years or fewer and who shows distinction in innovation. It honors an employee who realizes and uses the potential of resources at SMCS, both materials and knowledge, and supports the growth of SMCS by providing new ideas and strategies in a positive manner.
“Justina has truly blossomed in her role, and in doing so has helped so many of us on staff be better in our own roles. Her dedication and support has promoted personal growth and life-long learning skills for the students and teachers,” the nominations shared. “She’s also been a great resource out of the classroom, always encouraging and suggesting ways staff can use technology to work smarter not harder. Justina is a person who is always learning, finding inspiration and sharing her passion with others. We are blessed to have Justina as part of the SMCS team.”