Dixon Elementary School Principal Jeanne Siegenthaler fought back tears Wednesday as she accepted an award as Wisconsin Elementary School Principal of the Year.
Students carried armfuls of flowers to Siegenthaler, and a Dixon choir performed three songs during an all-school ceremony Wednesday in the gymnasium.
Siegenthaler, who recently received her doctorate degree from Edgewood College in Madison, said she is "surrounded by some great kids, outstanding staff members and some wonderful, wonderful parents."
"I feel very blessed and very lucky," she added.
The award is presented by the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and state Department of Public Instruction and honors excellence in leadership and achievement.
Siegenthaler thanked Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson for making the final call to hire her in August 2008. She previously had served as principal at St. Mary's School in Hales Corners for about five years. Some parents from St. Mary's attended Wednesday's ceremony, as did Siegenthaler's family.
She singled out her mother in the audience as her role model.
"Who here has a great mom?" Siegenthaler asked the students.
"I have an awesome mom," she said, choking back tears. "She's hardworking. She has a work ethic beyond he normal person. She's giving. She's generous. She's phenomenal. I aspire to be like Mom. So thank you, Mom."
Siegenthaler said she was proud of her work as an administrator and ready to tackle future challenges.
"We've got tough times ahead of us in education," she said. "I know we'll get through it together."
Information on the Principal of the Year program is on the AWSA website.