Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Education annually recognizes outstanding Lutheran educators in conjunction with commencement celebrations.

These awards recognize the distinction, dedication, excellence and a love for learning in LCMS education to elementary and secondary school educators. The Master Educator Award recipients are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Is presently serving at an LCMS affiliated school
  • Has taught at the appropriate level in an LCMS affiliated school for at least five years
  • Has exhibited dedication, excellence, and distinction in his/her service
  • Imparts a love for learning while inspiring students to serve in Lutheran education

Honorees receive an award and stipend of $1,000. In addition, the school where they serve also receives a $1,000 monetary gift.

We are pleased to recognize the 2023 recipients of these awards:

Master Educator, Elementary: Kathy Adams

Our elementary Master Educator is Kathy Adams, who recently retired after 30 dedicated years of service in Lutheran elementary school ministry. Nearly all of those years—all but one semester, in fact—were teaching second-grade at Trinity Lutheran School of Freistadt in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Kathy graduated from CUW in 1985. By then she had already been married for a year to her husband, Rick, who is now also on staff at Trinity Lutheran. They have two sons, Robin and Andrew, and one daughter, Hannah Margaret, as well as one grandson, Ricky.

During her many years as an educator, Kathy made a concerted effort to meet the educational needs of all children across the full spectrum of ability. At the same time, she also made sure her students had a strong foundation of knowing Jesus as their Savior, which she describes as her “greatest joy and privilege as a servant of God.”

Kathy was nominated by our own Dr. Michael Uden, CUW’s vice president for enrollment, who wrote about her: “Not only does she see each child as a distinctive gift from God, but she encultures that respect and care for one another among her students, too. She shares God’s love and truth faithfully, directly, and in developmentally engaging ways. She is quick to communicate with parents, and she is considerate to share delightful anecdotes about strengths of each child that she witnessed in action during the day.”

Outside the classroom, Kathy uses her God-given gifts and abilities to serve her church. This includes accompanying the church choir and being a part of the handbell choir. She has taught Sunday School and served as its superintendent for several years. She has also been part of church mission trips to the Wind River Lutheran Mission in Wyoming, where she conducted Vacation Bible School.

Since retiring from her teaching duties this past spring, Kathy and Rick have relocated from their home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and are now enjoying the lake life in Morris, Wisconsin, away from the busyness of the city.

Master Educator, Secondary: David Black

This year’s recipient of the Master Educator award for Secondary Education is David Black. David graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin in 1988 with a double major in history and theology. He later received a Master’s in American history from Butler University. He has been teaching in Lutheran schools for 36 years, including the last 11 years at Lutheran High School in Parker, Colorado.

His current role includes serving as director of Lights Academy—as in “Light of the World—which is a personalized, project based honors program for juniors and seniors at Lutheran High. The name “Lights,” by the way, was inspired by the phrase “Light of the World.”

In addition, he has also taught graduate-level online courses for over a decade at Concordia University Wisconsin in the Educational Technology and Design program. He has written numerous articles for Synodical and Lutheran Education Association publications, and has regularly presented at education conferences and consulted with Lutheran schools.

He was nominated by CUW’s Dr. Jim Pingel, Dean of Education, who wrote: “David is also a leader in navigating the ever-changing world of technology. Recently, he has shared his expertise and insights on how teachers can effectively use artificial intelligence in their classroom to directly impact student learning. In all things, David puts faith integration at the center of his content and pedagogy—a truly shining example of how to teach and live the faith.” David and his wife Gail—also a 1988 CUW graduate—have been married 34 years; they have three daughters: Stephanie, Susannah, and Carrie. And speaking of families, his connection to Concordia goes back nearly a century: his grandfather, the Rev. J. Henry Gienapp, was a professor at Concordia in Milwaukee for more than 50 years, from 1929 to 1980.

Want in?

Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world. Our Education programs focus on optimizing your abilities to serve students, schools, and the community through education. We develop well-rounded educational professionals that can teach and lead in rural and urban communities. With a Christian-centered focus, relevant curriculum, and engaging faculty you can play a meaningful role in the world of education.