Marlys Yawarsky (second from left) will receive a Good Shepherd Award  and Barbara Hackfort will receive an Excellence in Education Teacher Award from the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City.  The awards were announced at Kuemper all-school Mass Friday morning at Holy Spirit Church. Yawarsky and Hackfort are pictured following the Mass with Dan Ryan (left), diocese superintendent of schools, and Vern Henkenius, Kuemper Catholic School System president.
Marlys Yawarsky (second from left) will receive a Good Shepherd Award and Barbara Hackfort will receive an Excellence in Education Teacher Award from the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. The awards were announced at Kuemper all-school Mass Friday morning at Holy Spirit Church. Yawarsky and Hackfort are pictured following the Mass with Dan Ryan (left), diocese superintendent of schools, and Vern Henkenius, Kuemper Catholic School System president.
August 26, 2013



A 37-year teacher and 12-year secretary at Kuemper Catholic Schools will receive two top awards at the Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Schools.

Barb Hackfort will receive an Excellence in Education Teacher Award, and Marlys Yawarsky will receive a Good Shepherd Award.

Four Excellence in Education Teacher Awards and two Good Shepherd Awards will be presented at the dinner on Sunday, Oct. 13, in Sioux City.

Dan Ryan, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Sioux City, announced Kuemper's award recipients at the conclusion of all-school Mass Friday morning at Holy Spirit Church, and Hackfort and Yawarsky received enthusiastic applause from students, fellow staff members and others at as they stepped up to the altar to be recognized.

In an interview following the Mass, Ryan, who's beginning his fifth year as superintendent of the diocese's schools, talked about the awards. A team of administrators from around the diocese selects award winners from nominations submitted from any of the 16 Catholic school systems in northwest Iowa.

Ryan said the Excellence in Education Teacher Award winners exemplify the Catholic faith.

"They demonstrate that and help students learn that and participate in the faith," he said. "Barb (Hackfort) is an excellent example of that with everything she's done in the middle-school grades here."

Hackfort has taught sixth- through eighth-grade social studies, language arts, Spanish and Iowa history.

She's moderator for the Kuemper Middle School Student Council, organizer of St. Lawrence Center food drives and fundraisers for charitable organizations, facilitator of a Kuemper collaborative team, member of the Kuemper Iowa Core leadership team, and participant on the diocesan curriculum team.

She's received a number of education awards including Daughters of the American Revolution 2003 Outstanding Teacher of American History and 2003 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.

In the community, she's president of the Carroll County Historical Society and chairwoman of the Carroll Historic Preservation Commission. She addressed the 2010 ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the "Miracle in the Cornfield Landing in Carroll," received a grant to purchase a transport trailer for a 1915 Model C Heider tractor, and received a grant to purchase and install a stair lift for accessibility in the Carroll County Historical Society Museum.

With approximately 600 teachers in the diocese, Ryan said, recipients of the Excellence in Education Teacher Award must be extraordinary.

"It's on the faith aspect, how they teach," he said. "They have to be extraordinary examples of what we want to see of our educators in Catholic schools."

The nomination of Yawarsky says she's served as a substitute secretary at the Holy Spirit, St. Angela and St. Lawrence Centers (kindergarten through eighth grades), substitute food-service employees at all Kuemper centers; lead volunteer for Parents Club Box Tops, Labels for Eduction, Land O' Lakes, Pizza Ranch, Tyson, Pizza Hut; and played key roles in playground equipment maintenance and replacement as well as other projects.

Her contributions to Catholic education cites "dedication to a well-rounded learning atmosphere through her versatility and flexibility and thus earning the respect of her peers; outstanding role model of good Christian living as she gives happily and willingly of herself for the good of many others; supports the efforts of the Parents Club's financial goals to provide additional learning support in an effort to maintain the current tuitions and keep Catholic education affordable for all who desire it."

Like the Excellence in Education Teacher Award, Ryan said, demonstration of faith is an important criteria of the Good Shepherd Award.

"Everybody in our schools helps to transmit the faith and works with our students, but they (award recipients) also go above and beyond in different categories and really exemplify what we're looking for," he said.

The Good Shepherd Award is open to any school employee who is not a teacher, such as school administrator, secretary, cafeteria worker, classroom aide, development director, custodian or librarian. Bishop R. Walker Nickless began the Good Shepherd Award four years ago, saying he felt it was important to recognize not only teachers but other employees who also care deeply about Catholic education and help provide quality schools.

Ryan said in a news release, "We want to recognize people who have dedicated a large part of their life and possibly a great portion of their professional life to Catholic education. That is very worthy of recognizing."

Ryan talked at Mass and also in the interview about the essence of Catholic schools and what sets them apart.

"Of course we have great concern about academics, and there are excellent academic programs," he said. "Sometimes folks think about the social aspects or the athletics or the fine arts. But I always make sure I remind them that the reason our schools exist is because of the Catholic-faith element and we're trying to transmit that to the next generation. We do that by teaching it in religion classes, we do that by role-modeling, we do that through expectations of our students both in school and outside school. It really makes a difference.

"People like Barbara and Marlys really make that happen, and that's why we stop and recognize them."

Tickets for the Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Schools can be purchased on the diocese's website beginning today.

The dinner will be at the Sioux City Convention Center, and featured speaker will be Father Jonathan Morris, an analyst for Fox News and Fox Business Channels who offers coverage of ethical, social and religious news stories. He was featured extensively on Fox News during Pope Benedict's resignation and Pope Francis' subsequent election. His presentation at the dinner will focus on the role of Catholic schools within families and communities.

The dinners serves as the single-largest fundraiser for all of the diocese's 16 Catholic school systems. More than 6,200 students attended Catholic schools in northwest Iowa during the 2012-13 school year. Last year's event raised more than $125,000 and drew more than 600 people.

Bob and Cheryl Adams of St. Bernard Parish in Breda are chairing the dinner. Bob graduated from Irwin Community High School in 1979 and Cheryl from Manilla Community High School in 1979. They have been married for 32 years and lived in Breda for 29 years. Six of their children have graduated from Kuemper Catholic High School, and they currently have a daughter in seventh grade and a son in second grade.

Bob and Cheryl are the owners of Adams Motor Co. in Denison. Cheryl works for Bob as the human resources manager and has 25 years as a medical secretary. Bob is a eucharistic minister and lector. Cheryl is an officer of the women's guild at St. Bernard Parish.

As chaircouple, Bob and Cheryl will help plan many details of the evening and will serve as representatives of all families supporting Catholic education throughout the diocese.