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Missouri Association of School Administrators

Awards Information


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2021 MASA "Outstanding Emeritus Educator" Award

For the past several years, MASA has honored Outstanding Emeritus (retired) Educators identified by each MASA district for their past service.  In selecting the Emeritus honorees, special attention is given to the length of administrative service; participation in MASA while an active member; significant accomplishments as an active member; and continued interest in public education.


2021 Emeritus Recipients


Craig Barker                        



Craig began his career in education as a teacher, coach and athletic director for the South Holt R-1 District. He served as an assistant principal/athletic director and principal for the Lawson Schools. Craig then served as superintendent for the Lawson School District for 11 years. Craig also served as an interim superintendent at Orrick and East Buchanan.


Eric Churchwell                   



Eric spent nearly all of his professional career in the Palmyra R-I School District.  While at Palmyra, Eric coached and taught at the middle and high school levels.  He went on to serve the district as an administer at the high school. Eric served as Superintendent of Schools for fourteen years.  Eric served on the MASA Executive Committee from 2009 thru 2013 and was MASA President in 2011-2012.  He also served on the MSHSAA Board of Directors from 2014-2017.  Eric retired in 2017 and currently works for CTS Group as an Educational Consultant. 


Donna Jahnke                     

Greater St. Louis


Donna began her career in education as a special education teacher with the Special School District of St. Louis County. Donna next took a classroom teaching position with the Ladue School District. At Ladue, Donna went on to serve as Director of Community Services, Principal, Assistant Superintendent and from 2013 – 2019, Superintendent of Schools. Donna is now an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at St. Louis University.


Bill Nicely                   

Greater Kansas City

Bill began his education career as a chemistry and physics teacher in Kansas. He took his first administrative position as an assistant principal in Sedalia. Bill’s first superintendent position was with the Leeton R-10 Schools where he served for five years. In 2009, Bill took the superintendent position at Kearney where he stayed until retiring in 2020. Bill continues to influence the lives of children through his work with the Kauffman Real World Learning Initiative and the Education Governance and Leadership Association.


Mary Beth Scherer             

West Central

Mary Beth served as Special Education Director for Concordia R-2; Special Education Director and Assistant Superintendent at Richmond R-16, then returned to Concordia R-2 and served as Superintendent for 17 years. Mary Beth served on the MASA Executive Committee and was President in 2012-13. During her year as president Mary Beth felt strongly that MASA members from each region should attend all the state board meetings to ensure MASA remained a visible presence as decisions impacting public schools in Missouri were made. Mary Beth now works as a special education improvement consultant.


Jim Welker                          



Jim’s 42-year career in education began as an Agricultural Education Teacher at Delta R-5.  After nearly ten years at Delta, he became a District Supervisor of Agricultural Education with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the next ten years. Following his time at DESE, he worked as an Adult Education Coordinator at Sikeston Public Schools for two years, and then became Assistant Superintendent at Jackson R-2 Schools for eight years. Following Jackson, he served as Superintendent at Cape Girardeau Public Schools for nine years. Jim served as the Southeast MASA President and was nominated for both the New Superintendent and the Pearce Awards. After retiring from the superintendency, Jim served as the Missouri Career Pathways Consultant at the Southeast RPDC for two years and currently serves as the Director of the Southeast RPDC located at Southeast Missouri State University.


Mike Wutke                        



Mike began his career in education as a teacher and coach in Albany, then later at West Platte. He served as an assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent at Knob Noster. Mike served as superintendent for the Marshfield School District from 1998 to 2008.  Mike continues to serve public education as the South Central Area Supervisor for DESE. 


Aaron Zalis                          

South Central

Aaron served the Rolla Public Schools for 26 years, retiring as Superintendent in 2020. Aaron served as President of the M.A.S.A in 2017-18. He was elected a Trustee for the State Public School Retirement Systems of Missouri (PSRS/PEERS) and served as chairman from 2008 – 2020.  Aaron received the MASA Pearce Award for Distinguished Leadership in 2017.