LEA Winners 2023

Two Educators from St. Paul Lutheran School in Des Peres have been selected to receive distinguished educator awards from Lutheran Education Association. Dawn Walker was awarded with the Distinguished Lutheran Elementary Administrator Award and Bev Gruenwald was awarded with the Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Administrator. Scroll below to read more about these hard working educators. Thank you for your service and congratulations Dawn and Bev!

Bev Gruenwald honored as LEA’s Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Administrator

Bev Gruenwald was selected to receive Lutheran Education Association’s 2023 Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Administrator Award.

A 31-year veteran in Lutheran education, Bev is the director at St. Paul’s Lutheran School Early Childhood Center, Des Peres, Mo. She has also served at other schools in St. Louis, Mo., and Mt. Clemens, Mich. Bev earned a B.A. in education (early childhood and elementary) from Concordia University Chicago and an M.A. in early childhood education from Concordia University Chicago.

Bev said, “Being a part of a child's growth in all areas of development is an honor for me, but the greatest joy is seeing a child grow in faith! When I see children squeeze their little fingers into praying hands or sing passionately that “Jesus Loves Me!” it is a blessing. I love when a pastor or chapel leader talks about Jesus' death on the cross for our sins and then gets "interrupted" by a child who can't wait to share the amazing news, "but Jesus came alive again!"

She also says “My greatest challenge is wanting to do more. My excitement can overtake the resources and time that are at my disposal…there are so many opportunities in our little neighborhood.”

Supporting Bev’s nomination, her pastor said, “The majority of children in our early childhood center come from non-member families. Bev is keenly aware of the mission opportunity this presents and works in concert with her pastors in winsomely reaching out to non-member families. This has resulted in a number of baptisms of both children and their parents in recent years.”

One parent commented, “From my perspective as a school parent, I know Bev to be a visible, present leader and administrator. Nearly every time I enter the school, she is there, smiling, offering an encouraging word, and asking about our day. She knows each child by name and offers hugs and smiles abundantly. I have seen her praying with a child who is having a rough drop off, reading to children who happily snuggle in her lap for their special birthday book, and wearing so many different hats as she meets the various needs of the students and staff.”

Bev’s personal mission statement is “As a redeemed child of God, my mission is to serve God joyfully by nurturing His children to grow each day.”


Dawn Walker honored as LEA’s Distinguished Lutheran Elementary Administrator

Dawn Walker was selected to receive Lutheran Education Association’s 2023 Distinguished Lutheran Elementary Administrator Award.

A 12-year veteran in administration in Lutheran education, Dawn is the administrator at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Des Peres, Mo. She has also served at other schools in Edwardsville, Ill; Mequon, Wis; Hays, Kan; and Cedarburg, Wis. Dawn earned a B.S. in secondary education (science) from Concordia University Wisconsin and an M.S. in Education from Concordia University Wisconsin. Among previous honors, Dawn was the South Wisconsin District 2018 Administrator of the Year and a Van Lunen Fellow, as well as a member of the CUW Athletic Hall of Fame and Living Word Lutheran High School Hall of Fame.

Dawn said, “My greatest joys as I work with others are the relationships I form and the ability to share God’s love with all I come into contact with in my role as principal. Among the most rewarding things are watching teachers and students grow and reach their potential. I also enjoy the relationships I form with students others may see as “difficult.” It is a blessing to share God’s love and grace with them.”

She also says, “The greatest challenge I face as an administrator is finding ways to compensate our teachers financially. It is difficult to balance a school budget on just tuition, and I will continue to work to find ways to adequately pay and provide benefits for our teachers, who daily go above and beyond!”

Supporting Dawn’s nomination, one of her teachers said, “The best aspect of her leadership, I feel, is her commitment to Christian ministry and leading young people and families to the cross of Christ. She knows her mission and the church’s mission here very well. Her faith is evident in how she leads and treats others, especially the students, who quickly fell in love with her. She cares deeply about the education of each child in her care but is also concerned with the whole person and meeting a wide variety of needs. More than anything, she seeks to lead them to Jesus.”

One parent commented, “I really respect Dawn’s immediate dedication to personal engagement. Prior to the start of the school year, she implemented weekly virtual principal messages lasting a few minutes or less—an immediate effort on her part to reach each St. Paul’s parent or caregiver. This was only the start of her genuine and well-appreciated efforts to personally get to know both parents and children by name as quickly as possible. I especially admire her motivation to know each child as a whole person, their sole strengths, struggles, and interests. Dawn is outside every morning welcoming each child while ensuring their safety, and, in addition, she is known to have a presence in every classroom too. I can see how her efforts resonate adoration from the children who value her attentiveness and respect from parents and teachers.”

Dawn’s personal mission statement is “Daily I strive to serve my Lord (Col 3:23) by serving others in ways that allow them to develop their gifts and abilities to their fullest potential.”

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