Michael Yurk, principal of St. Paul Lutheran in GraftonMichael Yurk, principal of St. Paul Lutheran in Grafton

A Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus has received national recognition for his exemplary work as principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in Grafto

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) announced late last month that Michael Yurk (’92, ’07) is a 2017 National Distinguished Principal. The NAESP program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. The program was established in 1984 to recognize and celebrate principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families and staff in their learning communities.

Each year, NAESP congratulates principals from across the nation in both public and private schools, as well as schools from the United States Departments of Defense Office of Educational Activity and the United States Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, for their exemplary achievements.

Terry Schmidt, director of Schools for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, says Yurk was nominated and selected by his fellow principals through a nationwide search process conducted by the LCMS.

Yurk, who has served as principal of St. Paul since 2008, offered a statement earlier this week in response to the award:

“I’m very humbled to receive this award; to God be the glory! Our motto at St. Paul is ‘Focused on Excellence and Centered on Christ.’ We are blessed at St. Paul to have a staff that is dedicated to Christian education, and a congregation that fully supports meeting the needs of our school children and families. It’s my prayer that through this award we can further the ministry that we’ve been entrusted to lead and be a positive representative of faith-based schools throughout our country.”

During Yurk’s time at St. Paul, the school has been honored with National Lutheran School Exemplary status, Yurk was named the 2016-17 South Wisconsin District Administrator of the Year and he was a finalist for the Herb Kohl Excellence in Education Leadership Award in 2017.

Prior to his time at St. Paul, he served as assistant principal, dean of students and athletic director for Luther High School North in Chicago. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Lutheran Educators Association (LEA).

He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in secondary education from CUW in 1992, and he received his Master of Arts in educational leadership in 2007.

Yurk and his wife will travel to Washington, D.C., in October for two days of activities planned to honor and bring recognition to the award recipients.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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