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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Apr. 20, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented year of hardship for educators, students, and parents. School closures, remote learning, and broadband connectivity challenges created circumstances that left many school districts scrambling for answers.

Skyward, an administrative software provider committed to a better experience for every user, recognized leaders who have rose above pandemic-induced challenges with the 2021 Leader in Excellence (LIE) Award. For the seventh year running, the LIE award has honored K-12 districts and individuals who use Skyward to simplify operations, strengthen their teams, and improve learning outcomes. Some winners are new to Skyward, while others have been using the software for their entire careers. Winners this year will be recognized via the Skyward Leader in Excellence website, social media posts, videos, and complimentary registration to iCon 2022, Skyward’s international user conference.

“Throughout the pandemic, education professionals worldwide demonstrated incredible resolve as they pulled together resources, technology, and solutions to serve their students, families, and communities in the best possible ways,” said Ray Ackerlund, president of Skyward. “Each winner used Skyward to remain focused and committed to seeking new ways to operate their districts during the pandemic, which is a feat to be proud of.”

This year’s individual recipients included:

  • Kelly Mitchell, business office specialist at Deerfield Public Schools District 109 in Deerfield, Illinois
  • Tara Laidley, director of educational technology at Mascoutah School District 19 in Mascoutah, Illinois
  • Diane Austin, personnel specialist at Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District in Middleton, Wisconsin
  • Char Schoonover, enrollment and Skyward specialist at Clinton Community School District in Clinton, Wisconsin
  • Jeri Hauser, administrative assistant at Brown Deer School District in Brown Deer, Wisconsin
The district awards were given to:
  • Princeton Public Schools in Princeton, Minnesota
  • Comal Independent School District in New Braunfels, Texas
“I am beyond honored to have received this award!” said Char Schoonover, 2021 LIE winner. “Having worked with Skyward in our district for the past 30+ years, I feel as if I’ve grown up with Skyward.”

To learn more about each LIE winner and award details, visit