Area educators to receive school superintendent awards
BELLE FOURCHE – The South Dakota School Superintendent Association Executive Board announced their annual award winners.
The 2022 Outstanding Superintendent was awarded to Dr. Steve Willard of the Belle Fourche Public School District. Dr. Willard has served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent across South Dakota since 1979.
Dr. Willard has been an administrator in the Belle Fourche Public School District for the past 22 years serving as Superintendent of Schools since 2008. As Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Willard has been an advocate for students and the community of Belle Fourche. He is a leader in Career and Technical Education, not only for the students in Belle Fourche but as a model in partnership development across the state.
Dr. Willard has been creative and innovative with financial planning to meet the unique needs of his community. Additionally, Dr. Willard serves on the Board of Directors for Western Dakota Technical School and the State Board of Educational Standards.
The 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipient was awarded to Don Kirkegaard, who is retiring in 2022 after serving 41 years in education.
Kirkegaard began his career as a teacher and coach in 1981 in Bristol, South Dakota. He served as a principal and activity director in Bristol and Britton during the 80s and 90s. In 1994, he took his first superintendency position in Britton, serving there until accepting the position of Superintendent of School for the Meade School District in 2011. In 2018, he served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Education before moving to West Bend, Wisconsin. He then returned to the Meade Public School District in 2020 to finish his tenure with the District.
In addition to serving in his local school district, Kirkegaard has dedicated his professional life to the public school students in the state by serving 11 years on the South Dakota State Board of Education and has also served on local, state, and national committees often as the chairperson.
Willard and Kirkegaard will be honored at the annual Superintendent Conference held in July 2022.