Muskego — Three coveted Compass Awards were bestowed by the Muskego-Norway School Board recently with one being awarded posthumously, another going for the first time to a School Board member and the third won by a high school social studies teacher and leader.
Compass awards are given for having a positive impact on students, a positive impact on staff and parents or the community, for being committed to continuous improvement and leadership or service and for being champions for innovation and creativity or best practice.
The winners are beloved Muskego High School guidance counselor Jane Kralj, who died in March after a yearlong battle with cancer, School Board President Jim Schaefer, who stepped down in April after serving 12 years on the board, eight of them as its president, and high school social studies teacher Jason Bretzmann.
In bestowing the Compass Award to members of Kralj's family, Superintendent Kelly Thompson remembered Kralj's warm, engaging laugh and smile and how parents and students knew that she cared deeply about them.
"Her soft, sweet voice spoke volumes," Thompson said.
As counselor, Kralj helped many young people find their life's work and encouraged others to have faith in themselves and go beyond their comfort zones, she said.
In the award ceremony, Thompson also offered a statement Kralj wrote that reflects her dedication: "I consider my vocation to be a sacred trust."
In being the first school board member to receive a Compass Award, Thompson said Schaefer has led the district through many changes and improvements.
He guided the board through two superintendent searches, helped bring to the district the nationally used Baldridge framework for improvement that the country's best organizations use, helped guide the high school remodeling and constructing secure entrances for all the schools, strongly advocated hands on science, oversaw the start of kindergarten for 4-year-olds, the Project Lead the Way science and engineering program, the initiative to get Chrome books into the hands of students, and having more online options and more college level courses, Thompson noted.
Through it all, Schaefer held the line on the budget despite state aid cutbacks and has helped attract high-impact staff, she said.
She described him as "a man of faith," who is considerate and kind, maintains an open mind.
A questioning mind is what fellow Compass Award winner Jason Bretzmann strives to instill in his politics and American government students, said Lisa Safago, director of secondary student learning. He teaches his students to be independent thinkers, she said, and to go beyond textbooks to find outside resources.
Not only that, but colleagues often turn to him for ideas, she said. He leads graduate level courses and leads by supporting others, she said.
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