GRACE Receives Significant Anonymous Donation to “Invest in Teacher Excellence”

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin: Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has announced a generous donation titled “Invest in Teacher Excellence.” The intention of this gift is unprecedented and was made possible through an anonymous benefactor’s strong belief in Catholic education and the professional development of GRACE teachers. 

The “Invest in Teacher Excellence” program will serve GRACE teachers in two capacities, offering a GRACE Educator Master’s Degree Path Program through St. Norbert College and initiating a Top Teacher Talent Award that will recognize exceptional teachers and provide a stipend to support continued teaching success. 

The GRACE Master’s Degree Path Program, developed through a collaboration with St. Norbert College, gives GRACE teachers the opportunity to apply for one of 19 fully-funded scholarships for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at St. Norbert College. The scholarship will cover the cost of tuition, books and fees of the master’s degree. GRACE teachers will apply to the graduate program, and the coursework will be conducted in a cohort model, giving teachers the opportunity to learn together. 

The Top Teacher Talent Award, centered on rewarding and reinforcing exemplary teaching in the GRACE system, will award $1,000 to 20 classroom teachers who demonstrate strong classroom results in the areas of engagement, leadership and instruction through an essay application and portfolio of examples. 

GRACE President Kimberly Desotell said, “We are thrilled to announce this during Teacher Appreciation Week and are completely humbled by the generosity of this benefactor. Their faith in GRACE teachers reinforces our commitment to our educators, giving them the tools needed for continued excellence. This is an innovative and unprecedented opportunity to recognize high-quality teaching and learning in our GRACE schools.” 

“Our mission at St. Norbert College calls us to provide a high-caliber Catholic education for our local and global communities,” said Jennifer Hockenbery, dean of humanities and professor of philosophy at St. Norbert. “That commitment extends beyond our campus to our area K-12 schools. This initiative will help grow Catholic education in our region,” added Hockenbery.  

Eligible GRACE teachers are encouraged to apply by May 23 for these Teacher Excellence Awards through GRACE Human Resources.

Dana Vance Named New Principal at St. John the Baptist School

We are pleased to announce that Dana Vance has been selected as Principal of St. John the Baptist School. She was selected from an extremely talented candidate pool in a competitive process that included input and participation from St. John the Baptist School staff, faculty, families, and GRACE Leadership. Dana will work with the current principal, Mr. Drew Mulloy, to ensure a smooth transition in leadership and will officially start as principal on July 1.

Dana has served as Principal at St. Helen School in Chicago, Illinois for the past two years, and prior to that was Assistant Principal at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka, IL for five years. Before serving in school leadership positions, Ms. Vance was a classroom teacher for 18 years in Catholic schools. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from DePaul University, a Master’s in Administration and Institutional Policy from the University of Chicago, and will complete her Master’s in Educational Leadership from DePaul in June 2022. Dana brings an excellent reputation as a faith-filled leader and skilled instructor to the principalship role. 

When asked what she was most looking forward to when coming to St. John the Baptist School, Ms. Vance said, “I am most excited about continuing the good work that Drew (Mulloy) has started. He has put so many great systems in place and has such high expectations for St. John the Baptist students, I want to keep amplifying this and take it to the next level.” Speaking about her educational vision, Ms. Vance shared, “my philosophy is to impart in our students the confidence to build the behaviors, habits and skills to interact with each other, to act in the community, and to know when to ask for help; I look forward to bringing my experience and building on the practices and faith traditions that have been implemented at St. John the Baptist School.”

“We are delighted to have Dana Vance join our GRACE St. John the Baptist community in this leadership role,” GRACE President Kim Desotell stated. “As a Catholic school educator her entire career, her faith leadership and skills will carry on the rich traditions of faith formation and academic rigor in all we do!”

When she’s not at school, Ms. Vance loves to spend time with her two sons, Cameron and Patrick, her Mastiff-Rottweiler Sam, and her house rabbit Miller. She loves to bake and you can always catch her reading a fantasy/science fiction novel or participating in a book club. A Chicago native, she is thrilled to embrace the friendly Green Bay community and the Wisconsin way of living. 

Please join GRACE in congratulating Ms. Vance upon her selection as the next Principal at St. John the Baptist School.

GRACE Educators Receive Herb Kohl Education Foundation Awards

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Two educators from GRACE (Green Bay Area Catholic Education System) have been selected as 2022 Award Winners by the Herb Kohl Education Foundation committee for the Student Scholarship, Teacher Fellowship, and Principal Leadership program based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Mrs. Crystal Blahnik, Principal of St. Bernard Catholic School in Green Bay was awarded the Principal Leadership Award, which recognizes principals who set high standards for instruction, achievement, and character, and create a climate to best serve their students, families, staff, and community.  Mrs. Tara Wildenberg, second grade teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School in Green Bay, was chosen as a Teacher Fellowship Award recipient, selected for her superior ability to inspire a love of learning in her students, her ability to motivate others, and her leadership and service within and outside the classroom.

These prestigious honors recognize extraordinary leadership demonstrated in the educational setting as well as outstanding academic scholars. In 2022, 100 Wisconsin teachers and 17 Wisconsin principals were recognized, and each winner is given $6,000 individually and $6,000 to their school.

Applauding Mrs. Blahnik and Mrs. Wildenberg, GRACE President Kim Desotell stated “this honor is a rigorous application process and an award that is recognized widely across our entire state of Wisconsin. In our GRACE system, we are most proud to have two winners this year, Mrs. Blahnik and Mrs. Wildenberg! This truly demonstrates the caliber and quality of our GRACE teachers and leaders!”

The Herb Kohl Foundation was established in 1990 by Herb Kohl, Wisconsin philanthropist and businessman. The Foundation has awarded more than $28.3 million to Wisconsin educators, schools, and students.  “Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation,” Kohl said. “I am very proud of the accomplishments of these educators and look forward to the continued contributions to our GRACE Schools in the future.”

Holy Cross teachers Mrs. Sullivan (first grade) and Mrs. Anderson (kindergarten) are among only 101 teachers statewide to receive 2021 Teacher Fellowship Awards for, as the foundation states, “their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the classroom.”

Honorees are selected by a statewide committee comprised of civic leaders and representatives of education-related associations and the program’s co-sponsors: The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools, regional Cooperative Educational Service Agencies, the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, and the Wisconsin Homeschool Parents Association.

The Kohl Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship program was established by Herb Kohl, philanthropist and businessman, in 1990. “Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation,” Mr. Kohl said. “I am very proud of the accomplishments of these students, teachers and principals and look forward to the great contributions they will make in the future.”