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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Education Award Recipients

Educational Policy and Leadership Achievement Award

Dr. Joann Kallenberger SternkeDR. JOANN KALLENBERGER STERNKE, SP '81
Pewaukee, Wis.

It’s not surprising that JoAnn is a fan of the bestselling book Good to Great by Jim Collins, whom she considers a “mentor from afar.” JoAnn is passionate about continuous improvement strategies, and that passion is obvious in her leadership of the Pewaukee School District, which won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2013 and the Wisconsin Forward Award in 2010. JoAnn was also named Wisconsin’s Superintendent of the Year for 2013.

Since joining Pewaukee in 2001, JoAnn has implemented several successful initiatives, including the 1:1 Laptop Initiative in elementary through high school, 4-year-old kindergarten, advanced high school course offerings with Northwestern University, foreign language at the elementary school level, a 5x5 block schedule for the middle school and increased high school graduation requirements. Student achievement has also climbed during her tenure.

“Marquette’s philosophy of cura personalis has inspired me for my entire career,” she says. “Our mission in the Pewaukee School District is to ‘open the door to each child’s future.’ The word ‘each’ in our mission inspires and motivates me to make learning powerful for each and every child. We want students to graduate college- and career-ready, and I’m proud that we used to send 63 percent of our students to a two- or four-year college upon graduation and now we send more than 93 percent. This is door opening and life changing!”

JoAnn serves on the Board of Examiners for the Baldrige National Quality Program and Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence and is an active member of the American Society for Quality. She also teaches at Cardinal Stritch University and is site coordinator for Cardinal Stritch’s educational leadership and superintendent licensure programs.

“I believe I do the work I do because of my father,” JoAnn says. “My dad worked his entire career at Marquette University, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. I’m very proud that he signed my diploma. When he retired, he served as vice president of business and finance. My dad was an educational leader who built wonderful relationships with people and led with integrity. I learned a lot from him and lead with his memory in my heart.”

Hometown: Wauwatosa, Wis.
Favorite book: “I love the book To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved teaching it when I was an English, speech and drama teacher at Shorewood High School. I love the message that it sends: ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it.’ That’s powerful for me.”
Dream dinner guest: “Abraham Lincoln. Such a quiet yet powerful leader with great values in place.”
Marquette faculty member who had an impact: “Revs. John Raynor, S.J., and John Naus, S.J., were memorable to me.”
Favorite Marquette memory: “Beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame in 1980 on the same day we won in hockey in the Olympics. Our hotel burned down, but we had a great time.”
Marquette legacy: “We have a long Marquette legacy: dad, mom, brother, sister, daughter and uncle.”
Most influential people: “It has to be my parents. While my dad has passed away, my mom is still with us and so vibrant. She’s 92 and wouldn’t miss this event for the world.”