Ron Olberding was recently honored by his peers for his outstanding contributions to education in northwest Iowa.
The St. Mary's School K-4 principal and Spencer Sacred Heart principal was honored recently at the Sioux City Dioceses's 10th Annual Bishop's Dinner.
Olberding has been at Sacred Heart for the past 16 years and for the past five years, has spent one day a week at St. Mary's.
Catholic education has always been important to Olberding. He attended school in Varina through the eighth grade and then continued his Catholic education at Our Lady of Good Council in Fonda, graduating from there in 1971.
His first grade teacher, a Catholic sister, he said, influenced him into wanting to become an educator himself.
He went off to Omaha Community College, finishing up his degree at Drake University and later earned his master's degree at Drake.
For the first few years, his teaching was in the public school systems at Ruthven and Spencer. He also served as a coach in several sports.
He became a member of the Sacred Heart School Board when his three children were attending school there. When a principal position came up at the school, he was asked to step in, and took the challenge with great pleasure.
Being an educator, he said, has many rewards and the schools in this area - both public and parochial - provide excellent education. But the Catholic education, he said, stands out.
"We've got that extra dimension, bringing Jesus and God into our teaching. It's very positive. People feel the difference in the atmosphere when they walk in."
Olberding was nominated by his peers for his outstanding work and feels it was a great honor to be recognized at the Bishop's Dinner, which had some 800 guests present. Two other St. Mary's educators have received the honor in the past - third grade teacher Heidi Larsen and high school teacher and coach Ryan Berg. This is only the second year that administrators have been included in the recognition.
"It's a very nice honor and I am honored to be asked to attend," Olberding said.
In his acceptance speech, he recognized the teachers at St. Mary's and Sacred Heart. "They deserve credit for this award," he shared." He also made special reference to his parents and to his wife, Carol, and their three children, and of, course, "to our Heavenly Father."
"I have always been very fortunate to have a good staff and good people to work with. My job has been very rewarding. I get to see kids every day and there's nothing better than being around kids; they keep me young and always on my toes!"
Olberding has always taught elementary - and middle school -age kids; he enjoys that age.
"They are very inquisitive at these ages. They are excited about a lot of things."
The dual principal enjoys the arrangement and sums up the love for his job.
"There is something new every day. I am lucky to be able to get up in the morning and want to go to work. I always look forward to going to work. We've got great kids and families and great schools," he said.