The Ladue Education Foundation & Alumni Association's Annual Community Breakfast was held at Ladue Horton Watkins High School on Sept. 29, marking the 12th year of the LEF's work providing additional academic and enrichment opportunities for Ladue Schools students and connections for Ladue Schools alumni.

The event was sold out at 300 attendees, all seated at tables in the newly renovated high school's Multipurpose Room. Ladue Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Jahnke spoke about the accomplishments of the district in the past year, highlighted by the successful high school renovation. She credited the success of the project to the continued partnership with the LEF and its capital campaign, a strong Board of Education, and a campaign committee that rallied the community to vote yes on the bond referendum. She also praised the staff and teachers of the district, as well as Bond Architects and S. M. Wilson, for creating a terrific campus that serves students and educators alike. "Together we've certainly changed the world of our high school students," Dr. Janke said.

The LEF honored Dr. Chuck McKenna at the breakfast, presenting him with a plaque to acknowledge his contribution to the district. One of the highlights of Dr. Jahnke's remarks was the announcement that the district's Board of Education has resolved to name the high school's athletic complex after Dr. McKenna. The Dr. Charles McKenna Athletic Plaza will be commemorated at the gated entrance to the plaza connecting the existing gymnasium and natatorium with the new track, field and grandstand. Dr. McKenna served as Ladue Schools Superintendent from 1971-2000. The breakfast was attended by Mayor Barry Glantz of Creve Coeur, Mayor Margo Martin of Frontenac and Mayor Nancy Spewak of Ladue, who made a special appearance in the video honoring Dr. McKenna.

A key portion of the event, as in past years, were the presentations about the grants funded by the LEF. One of the featured students this year was Ladue Schools fifth grader Jamarr Turner, who shared his appreciation of the Eye See Me Library Diversification grant, which provides books for classroom libraries that feature characters and story lines that reflect the cultures of students of color. 

Guests were invited to take a tour of the high school after the breakfast that included the new Art Gallery, which just had its opening exhibition of alumni art on Oct. 5. (The exhibit will continue through Dec. 14.)

SEE the video honoring Dr. Chuck McKenna, and VIEW the presentation about the new Art Gallery.



Guest Speaker, Dr. Donna Jahnke
Ladue Schools SuperintendEnt

Dr. Donna Jahnke has served the Ladue School District for 32 years and began her role as the district’s superintendent on July 1, 2013, after having served as the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning since 2008. Dr. Jahnke plans to retire effective June 30, 2019, at which point she will have served in education for a total of 36 years.

On March 25, 2015, Dr. Jahnke was named New Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) for outstanding performance as a new superintendent. Dr. Jahnke also served on the steering committee of the St. Louis Regional Collaborative for Educational Excellence which was formed in June 2015 by all St. Louis County public schools to support efforts to assist the Normandy Schools Collaborative and Riverview Gardens School District in regaining accreditation.

Dr. Jahnke began her career in the Ladue School District in 1991 as a classroom teacher, after having worked as a Special Education Teacher for Special School District of St. Louis County. In 1996, she became Director of Community Services, which included responsibilities as the Director of the Ladue Early Childhood Center, the Parents as Teachers program and all district fee-based programs. In 1998, she was appointed Principal of Reed Elementary School where she remained until becoming an Assistant Superintendent in 2008.

Honorary Guest, Dr. Chuck McKenna
Retired Ladue Schools Superintendent 

Dr. Charles (“Chuck”) McKenna began his career with the Ladue School District in 1963, rising to Superintendent and serving twenty-nine years in the role until he retired in 2000. A Michigan native, Dr. McKenna attended Central Michigan University, earning his Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University Teachers College. 

Dr. McKenna taught English and social studies and was a graduate school instructor at Northeast Missouri State University. He served as Assistant Superintendent of the Ladue School District before becoming Superintendent in 1971.

Dr. McKenna has taken on numerous roles at the regional, state and national level. He served as President of Cooperating School Districts of Metropolitan St. Louis and was the first Chairman of the St. Louis Voluntary Interdistrict Desegregation Program. He served on the Advisory Board of the St. Louis Zoo and the Chancellor’s Advisory Board of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. 

In addition, Dr. McKenna has received a plethora of awards. He was chosen as Administrator of the Year by the Missouri State Teacher’s Association and the Missouri Association of School Administrators. In 1989, he received a Missouri Leadership Academy Award for Contributions to Women Administrators. He was named a Top 100 Educator by the National School Board Association and won the American Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award.