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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Education Award Recipients

Educational Policy and Leadership Achievement Award

Mark JoerresDr. Mark T. Joerres, Arts '85, Grad '89, '94
New Berlin, Wis.

As principal of Milwaukee’s St. Thomas More High School, Mark makes it incredibly clear what he finds important: "Spread the gospel message … and, when necessary, use words."

Mark has done this at all levels of education — elementary, high school and college — and says he is cognizant of the importance of making a difference in the lives of students.

“There is no greater satisfaction than being told by students of their deep appreciation for what I’ve done or said to them that made a lasting impression,” he says. “This not only provides for me an incredible feeling of satisfaction, but it motivates me to keep giving, keep doing.”

Which keeps him active in the community, too. Mark is part of a team of mentors to graduates of Milwaukee’s Nativity Jesuit Academy, most recently eight-graders. In this role, he helps ensure that the students are focused on their academics, make good choices in social situations and have a trusted counselor to whom they can turn when they need advice.

“The level of respect, maturity and other-centeredness of the boys from Nativity provides a great foundation when journeying with them through high school,” he says. “To see them grow and produce many impressive results — both in and out of school — is so rewarding. To be such an important compass in their life is humbling.”

As the father of a son with Down syndrome, Mark is connected with Marquette’s chapter of Best Buddies and Zachariah’s Acres, a facility in Waukesha County, Wis., for children with special needs and their families to explore nature and create memories.

Fun Facts
Hometown: Milwaukee
Favorite quote: "It is in giving that we receive." - Prayer of St. Francis. It is so true. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about love, money, support, respect, trust or just about anything you can think of. What you give comes right back to you and often times many-fold!
Someone with whom you'd like to have dinner: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite his extreme health challenges while leading our country through one of its most difficult times in history, he persevered. He was a doer. He had a "can do’" thought pattern. He didn’t just sit back with great ideas. He implemented and tried things. IF they worked, GREAT! Celebrate it! If things didn’t work, he threw them away and thought of new ideas. Too often, people talk but don’t act. He wasn’t afraid of acting on ideas and failing. You never know unless you try! What an awesome disposition!
Marquette faculty or staff member who made an impact: Rev. Mike Kurimay, S.J. He was my adviser through most of my graduate program. He not only was a brilliant person with a great sense of humor, but, his kindness, patience, advocacy and guidance provided for me an assurance that I was not only going to survive, but thrive! He kept me focused and determined. His high standards and expectations kept the bar high. That’s OK.
Favorite Marquette memory St. Joan of Arc Chapel. It was a place for respite and renewal. It was always calm and comforting. I would go there to reflect, pray, plan, and re-energize my mind, body and spirit.
When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why? I knew in fifth grade I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I felt a calling to nurture and guide others for learning, discovering and building. It was important to me to make a lasting difference in this world, and doing so one student at a time seemed like the right approach.
Marquette legacy: My dad attended classes at Marquette after WWII while working full time and raising a family. As the family grew and the financial demands became greater, he had to discontinue his program. He often encouraged me to go to Marquette. (Perhaps I was vicariously fulfilling his dream.) I was the first in the family to graduate from here. I did have a younger brother follow a couple years after me.
Most influential person: I’ve been blessed with many influential folks throughout my life. I would have to say that both my parents were the most influential. Often times it was what they didn’t say or do that impacted me more. Their strong faith, positive attitude, hard work ethic, attention to details, and core family values have provided for me the essence of how I think and act. All of that was couched in a philosophy to first love and serve God, then others, and finally yourself. It truly provides a peace and sense of fulfillment that’s unlike anything else. You can’t put a price tag on such satisfaction. This has been the framework of my vocation as an educator.