National Awards


Miss Scheffler, upon receiving her award, takes a moment to recognize God’s blessings, her staff, families, parish, students, and pastor at the NAESP ceremony in Washington DC.

“It seems like every year we are adding to the accolades for St. Joseph school.  This year we added two!  Finally, our amazing principal was recognized by not only NCEA, but also by NAESP.  Sending our principal to Washington DC was an honor for our entire community.  We couldn’t be prouder. My three children are thriving at St. Joe’s, and I am thrilled to see that this amazing team is being recognized for it.  My children are blessed to be surrounded by such faithful leaders who inspire them to do great things both academically and spiritually.”                              School Board President, Danielle Pugh

2016 National Distinguished Principal: Lynne Scheffler
Awarded by: National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
Lynne Scheffler, principal of St. Joseph School in Lockport was selected as Illinois’ 2016 National Distinguished Principal. The National Association of Elementary School Principals established the program in 1984 to recognize and celebrate elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities.

Lynne Scheffler was nominated and selected through a nationwide search process conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and National Catholic Education Association.  Scheffler was one of three Catholic School Principals in the nation and the ONLY principal from Illinois to earn this honor.

“At the helm of every successful school is a successful principal,” said Gail Connelly, NAESP’s Executive Director. “Our National Distinguished Principals program provides us with an opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership of these principals and their commitment to creating successful learning communities. Because of them, students thrive academically, teachers grow professionally, and communities are strengthened.”  Upon learning of the latest honor for Miss Scheffler, Fr. Greg Rothfuchs, pastor at St. Joseph shared his experiences working with Scheffler, “Miss Scheffler is an extremely talented educator and administrator who has put her gifts at the service of the Church and thereby strengthened the faith life of the parish as a whole.  There is in the school a sense of Christian community, rooted in faith, that is palpable and this has come about precisely because Miss Scheffler has consciously and deliberately cultivated it throughout her sixteen years as principal.   Her leadership of St. Joseph School is exemplary at a number of levels.  It is too obvious to point out her excellence in the area of academic leadership.  The fact that her leadership gained the US Department of Education Blue Ribbon of Excellence for our school testifies to that.  But there is more to it.  She sets and achieves rigorous standards. She knows every single student down to the details of their academic strengths and weaknesses, how they’ve worked at improvement in areas of difficulty, and what gifts they are most likely to use well.   She knows all of this off the top of her head because she accompanies each student on their journey year by year as a friend and mentor.  I have seen her guide the children through all shades of the spectrum.  She is with them in their fun times, cheering them on at endless volleyball and basketball games.  She rarely misses these because she knows that it’s important to the kids to see her support them outside of just book learning.  At the same time, she is with them every step of the way in the classroom.  She monitors the progress of every child and calls them to account when they could do better, and she knows how far to push them because she knows what each child is capable of.   She is also with them in their personal trials at home.  I have seen her show great compassion to students at their toughest times: supporting a child who was grieving over a dying grandparent, and sharing his tears, while also leading that child to trust in the Lord’s plan. She deftly weaves just the right amount of challenge and discipline with compassion and tolerance to lead these children to the best outcome.  Miss Scheffler has created an environment of well organized, disciplined structure and the fruit it bears is obvious.  It is critically important to her that each child grow as much as their talents allow them to. Amidst all of this, there is an atmosphere that sets an even higher tone, however, and that is faith.  Miss Scheffler believes in Catholic education.  This is far more than a job to her – in fact, I can’t imagine anyone working as hard as she does just for a job!  “This school IS her life,” is a view shared by numerous parents.  This is really her life mission and that has borne great fruit for our school.”


LLP Award

2016 NCEA Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award- Distinguished Principal, Miss Scheffler, with the BEST in Catholic Education- Rev. Gregory Rothfuchs (pastor of St. Joseph) and Rev. John Belmonte ( Superintendent of Diocese of Joliet Schools)

2016 Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award: Miss Lynne Scheffler
Awarded by: National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)
The National Catholic Education Association is the professional organization which coordinates and assists the mission of all of the Catholic schools in our nation.  As part of its role of promoting excellence in Catholic education, once a year the NCEA bestows awards which recognize the best educators to be found in our country’s Catholic schools, holding them up as an example and model “of excellence and distinguished service in Catholic school education.”

This April our own Miss Scheffler was awarded the NCEA “Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award” in San Diego for her tireless quest for excellence as Principal of St. Joseph School.  Only 32 Catholic educators in the entire country received this award, and, of those 32, only eight are principals.  What a great honor for our school and what a testimony to Miss Scheffler’s 15 years of service to our children!

This award is given to “recognize outstanding efforts, contributions, and achievements on behalf of Catholic school education.”  Of course, for us at SJS, it is not surprise that Miss Scheffler has merited this award since we are all well aware of her tireless efforts to make SJS the best school it can possibly be.  This award confirms how much SJS benefits from her talents and drive.



Distinguished Pastor

One of twelve pastors in the nation to be named Distinguished Pastor in 2015- Rev. Gregory Rothfuchs (Pastor of St. Joseph) receives the award with Rev. John Belmonte (Superintendent of Diocese of Joliet schools) at his side at the NCEA Convention in Orlando, FL.

2015 Distinguished Pastor Award: Fr. Gregory Rothfuchs
Awarded by: National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)
Father Gregory Rothfuchs of St. Joseph Parish and School received the 2015 Distinguished Pastor Award from the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) for his dedication and commitment to excellence. He was one of twelve pastors from across the nation to be awarded this prestigious honor.

In his short time at St. Joseph, he is loved and admired by many.  As Michelle Ray, St. Joseph Parishioner and Advancement Director shared, “Fr. Greg came to St. Joseph 18 months ago, and God only knows what we ever did without him.  He has brought so much life, faith and support to our school and parish.  The title of Distinguished Pastor suits him well.  A strong spiritual leader and pillar of support is vital to a successful Catholic School.  Fr. Greg possesses these qualities day in and day out at St. Joseph.  He is such a visible support of all school events; big and small.  From Masses, board meetings, parent meetings, dinner dances, alumni reunions, cheering on our sports teams, riding the roller coasters at our parish Oktoberfest, sitting in the front row of our school programs; he is there, and begins all we do in prayer.”

As a strong supporter of Catholic education, Fr. Gregory continues to create an environment where spiritual and academic excellence thrive.  “Through his example, he has inspired parents of our students to do more by contributing to the school, parish, and the community at large.  Through the dedicated spiritual leadership of Fr. Greg, families are encouraged to raise their children with Jesus their compass.  He is a leader who inspires all of us to provide the best in Catholic education for the Diocese of Joliet.  He is the inspiration and compass to so many.  He is our true North…he leads us all closer to Christ.  We feel blessed to have him at St. Joseph, and thrilled to have Fr. Gregory recognized as one of the 2015 NCEA Distinguished Pastors.” shared Lynne Scheffler, Principal of St. Joseph School.


br20102010 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence
Awarded by: US Department of Education
In September, 2010, St. Joseph was one of the 300 schools across the nation and one of 50 private schools to receive the prestigious 2010 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award for a HIGH performing school.  This award from the US Department of Education affirms what we have known at St. Joseph School for a long time.  Our parish school is one of the top performing schools in the nation and a model for others to follow.  To qualify for this award, St. Joseph school must be in the TOP TEN percenct of the nation in reading and math scores along with a demonstrated academic program of success.  Since 2010, US Department of Education limits private schools to winning this award.  SJS will forever be known as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and continues to demonstrate ABOVE average test scores annually and demonstrated alumni success that cannot be matched.