The Kohl Foundation Principal Leadership Award recognizes school leaders who set high standards for instruction, achievement, and character and create a climate to best serve their students, families, staff, and community. Award recipients are selected by a statewide committee composed of civic leaders, and representatives of education-related associations and the program’s co-sponsors: The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS), regional Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESA), the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, and the Wisconsin Homeschool Parents Association.“I am deeply humbled to be selected for this award, and I thank the Herb Kohl Foundation for this honor and its continued support for education in the State of Wisconsin.” Nicholas Kelly said. “I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to our teachers and staff. It is their incredible commitment — working long hours, adapting to an unprecedented learning environment, and managing high levels of stress, especially during the pandemic — that allows St. Thomas More to provide the foundation for our students to lead humbly, to always seek truth and knowledge, and to answer God’s call to serve.”
Before becoming the school’s principal, Kelly taught social science at St. Thomas More, served as assistant principal and dean of students, and worked as an assistant coach for the school’s football team. Kelly earned master’s degrees in both Secondary Education and Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“During my six years working with Nic, I have been continuously amazed by his dedication to the mission and vision of St. Thomas More,” President Mary McIntosh said. “Nic’s leadership inspires everyone who works with him, and St. Thomas More is grateful for his exceptional service to our school community.”
“Nic is determined to make sure that our students receive the love and support they need and deserve, not just from the faculty and staff but from himself as well,” added John Hoch (TM ’87), who currently serves as St. Thomas More’s athletic director and will become the school’s president on July 1, 2021. “He leads by example, taking a deeply vested interest in our most at-risk kids, getting to know them personally, and making sure that he and the school provide them with the skills, resources, and individualized support to achieve lasting success.”Philanthropist, businessman, and four-term US Senator Herb Kohl established the Kohl Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship program in 1990. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded nearly $25 million to Wisconsin educators, principals, students, and schools. As a result of Kelly’s selection for the Principal Leadership Award, the Kohl Foundation will provide a $6,000 grant to St. Thomas More.
“Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation,” Senator Kohl said in the foundation’s press release. “I am very proud of the accomplishments of these students, teachers, and principals and look forward to the great contributions they will make in the future.”
Multiple St. Thomas More teachers have previously received the Kohl Foundation’s Teacher Fellowship. Art teacher Jodi Brzezinski, world languages chair Ann Marie Dorn, social science chair Kevin Gleeson, biomedical science chair Darlene Langhoff, and music department chair Nancy Wiecki are all past winners of the prestigious Kohl Teacher Fellowship. St. Thomas More students — most recently David Jensen in 2020 — have also been awarded the Kohl Foundation’s Student Excellence Scholarship.