Two receive national recognition from National Catholic Educational Association

By Becky Berreth

Two members of the Rapid City Catholic School System have been recognized for their “dedication and commitment to excellence.” Superintendent Barb Honeycutt and St. Thomas More Middle School Principal Keiz Shultz have been awarded the “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” award by the National Catholic Educational Association. According to a press release from the NCEA, “the annual award honors those who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy as well as exceptional ability, dedication and results.”

Mary Helen Olsen, an eighth grade religion teacher, nominated both women for the award. Olsen, who has worked for the school for 28 years, has seen the impact both women have had on the school and said that nominating the two was obvious. “It was very evident that Barb was worthy at all levels,” she said. “I have watched the school grow under her leadership. It’s not just the number of students, but her spiritual leadership and the way she draws the best out of her personnel.

Keiz Shultz

“Keiz is an active coach for us. She is all about, ‘What can I do to make you a better teacher?’ She works to provide resources, training, or whatever we need. She’s a real advocate for us, and wants us to be the best in the classroom.”

As part of the nomination process, Honeycutt and Shultz had to complete part of the application.

Questions for the superintendent revolved around governance and leadership of the school system, the strategic design plan, development, and “what we have done to move our school forward over the last few years,” explained Honeycutt, who started in the RCCSS as a volunteer for the development office more than 20 years ago. “Our enrollments and tuition assistance have been increasing, but it’s not just that. If you look back at what the people of this school have accomplished using the funds we had, still being able to carry out an education of excellence, it is phenomenal. If you create a timeline of the last several years, the total package speaks for itself. ”

“And it’s been such a short amount of time,” added Shultz. “The reality is we have been a K-12 district for a short amount of time compared to other schools across the country. We have so many different areas — curriculum development, fundraising, academic standards — that people have come together and worked hard to make us what we are today.”

According the Shultz, the questions for the principal’s award focused on the running a school.

“One of the things I work hard on is the faith formation of not only the students, but the faculty and staff,” Shultz said. “Part of that shows in what we are trying to do in developing an overall community of faith.”

Shultz, who has been with the RCCSS for 22 years, said she was also asked about professional development and how she helps the teachers to be better at teaching and student development.

Barb Honeycutt

“I talked about our advocacy program, which we are presenting at the conference, and our peer-to-peer mentorship program with the junior class,” she explained.

Both Honeycutt and Shultz were quick to share the award with everyone who has worked with and currently works for the RCCSS. “Our faculty and staff work so hard it’s nice to see all of our work recognized on a national level,” said Honeycutt. “This success is the result of hard work from a lot of people.”

“Receiving this individual award is a great way for us to tell about how wonderful our school system is,” agreed Keiz.

They will be recognized, along with the 32 other “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” award winners during the annual NCEA Convention and Expo at the end of March in San Diego, Calif. The NCEA is the largest private education association gathering in the country and features professional development sessions, liturgies, and an exhibition of educational products and services.