Lorey wins award recognizing women’s leadership

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

ATHENA Award recipient Tracy Lorey and Rotary Club of Jasper President Laura Grammer

HUNTINGBURG — Tracy Lorey, superintendent of the Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools, was put in the spotlight Thursday as the Rotary Club of Jasper named her the winner of the eighth annual ATHENA International Leadership Award before a packed house at the Huntingburg Event Center.

ATHENA International, founded in 1982, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders. The ATHENA Award is bestowed on one who demonstrates professional excellence, community service and actively assists women in their achievement of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Before becoming Greater Jasper superintendent in 2012, Lorey had 26 years in education as a teacher, principal and curriculum director. Nancy Habig, former Greater Jasper School Board president, was one of those who summarized the honoree’s broad impact as superintendent during the ATHENA nominating process.

“In my 32 years on the school board,” Habig wrote, “I have never seen a better superintendent. Tracy took on what was always a very tough job at a most difficult time for education. She’s guided our corporation and community through many tough decisions. Despite state budget cuts, time-consuming regulations and ever-changing accountability measures, she has kept our schools financially and academically sound.”

In 2017, the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents named Lorey the Superintendent of the Year. She is currently the association’s president-elect for 2019-20. She currently serves on 23 boards of directors or advisory committees.

Lorey, who holds a doctorate in education administration, said she learned early that, “if you set your focus on making small differences, those efforts will grow into greater or bigger accomplishments.”

She said true leaders “recognize the power of relationships in building a culture and climate that empowers, supports and encourages its members to strive for their personal best toward shared goals. It takes a team to do anything of lasting value.

“Many years ago, someone took a chance on a young and inexperienced teacher who had a passion for learning, a heart for kids and just enough competitive spirit to constantly be striving for something new and different,” she added. “Many mentors throughout the years helped me along the way. Just as they saw something in me, I have worked to recognize those same qualities in others.”

Lorey lives with her husband, Kurt, in Jasper. They are the parents of seven children.

The Rotary Club announced it would donate part of Thursday night’s ticket proceeds — about 300 attended — to the charity of the award recipient’s choice. Lorey selected Community CHEW — Child Hunger Ending Workshop — and spent much of her acceptance speech lauding its founder, a Greater Jasper special education teacher.

“A few years ago, a young teacher by the name of Cassie Williams discovered that some of her students were coming to school hungry,” Lorey said. “Cassie began inquiring and to her dismay, she learned that many students were going without basic necessities like food, hygiene items, clothes, etc. Being the leader that she is, she had to act. She created Community CHEW. Her vision was to provide a meal, a Christian message and an experience to give children an opportunity to find their purpose and to thrive.”

In addition to providing needy children with a meal and items for basic needs, Lorey said, Williams “seized an opportunity to expose these same kids to an array of life experience they may otherwise never experience and instilling a heart of service by completing service projects to give back to the community.”

This past summer, CHEW served over 800 meals to children in grades K-8.

Lorey’s voice quivered when she said Williams “led with her heart.”

Former lieutenant governor and current Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellspermann was the evening’s keynote speaker. This year’s other five finalists were Jane Balsmeyer, Jenny Fowler, Judy Jochem-Nino, Dr. Nancy Otte and Jill Wigand.

Rotary President Laura Grammer, who served as emcee of Thursday’s event, announced that the chapter recently learned it will be able to create a permanent display at the Dubois County Museum for ATHENA recipients.

Past ATHENA winners are: retired executive director of Tri-Cap Jane Chappell in 2012; Matrix Integration President and CEO Brenda Stallings in 2013; Ferdinand News Co-owner Kathy Tretter in 2014; Executive Director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce Nancy Eckerle in 2015; former Huntingburg mayor and Indiana auditor of state Connie Nass in 2016; Tonya Heim, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center’s vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer, in 2017; and Kim Messmer, an independent future executive senior sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, in 2018.




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