It was her first day on the job, a cold, winter's morning in January, 1999.
Dr. Wendy Shannon was about to make her first important decision as the new superintendent of Byron Public Schools. The task: Whether to call a two-hour school delay.
"I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision because it was Day 1," Shannon said. "(I called it), but I went back and forth and back and forth, then those decisions got easier as time went on as to what to do when the weather comes."
Shannon said she also had to make sure she made the decision before the buses went out and so that parents had enough time to arrange for childcare if needed.
It is for her efforts such as this one and for the rest of her leadership throughout her 13 and a half year-career with Byron Public Schools that Dr. Shannon has been honored with the 2012 Polaris Leadership Award, given annually by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.
Shannon, who retired this past summer, will receive the award for her school leadership and achievement on Oct. 1 in Brainerd, Minn.
The recognition ceremony will be held during the MASA 's fall conference.
"She's been an active and exemplary leader in education in Minnesota for a long time, " Mia Urick, director of professional development at MASA, said. "She's also been active in MASA, and she's been the treasurer."
Urick said the honor is awarded to only one individual per year, to a Minnesota school leader who has at least 20 years of education administration experience.
Shannon said the award means a great deal because she was recognized by her peers.
"I was nominated by a colleague to go through the process, so that was very significant," she said.
"Polaris, the 'North Star," themes this award because, just as exemplary administrators serve as definitive leaders, Polaris is constant and unmoving in the sky," according to a statement from the MASA. "A navigator's benchmark, the star marks the 'true north,' the fundamental direction that defines east, west and south. With this award, Dr. Shannon is recognized for qualities such as: professional courage, creation of a legacy of excellent leadership, fostering innovation, contribution through example and mentoring, exemplary conduct reflecting integrity and bearing emulation, and significant tenure in each position to support district vision and affect positive change."
"I'm obviously very proud of the school district," Dr. Shannon said. "What was most important was the focus being on our students and their achievements."
Dr. Shannon added that when it comes to making important, tough decisions, it's key to have a strong support base.
"You know you're going to have to make those decisions as a superintendent, so you have to look at where you're going to get that support, from your family, from your mentors, from your faith. That's part of being a leader."
Dr. Shannon holds a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction, a master's degree in secondary education and a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies from the University of Minnesota.
Read the rest of the story in the Byron Review print edition.