SCC Elementary principal has biggest heart in Hammond
In June, St. Croix Central Elementary School Principal Steve Sanders was selected as the winner of the Roberts Good Neighbor Award.
On Friday night, the now retired educator received a similar honor by earning the Hammond Heartland Days Award.
According to Lions Club member Cory Bonte, the annual award winner is determined by a community nomination and voting process answering the question of "who has the biggest heart in Hammond."
"He's been the principal in Roberts for all those years, and he touched all those kids' hearts. The kids truly, truly loved him," Bonte said.
Though Sanders' career was punctuated with the disastrous fire that gutted St. Croix Central Elementary this spring, he served the communities of Roberts and Hammond for 33 years.
He began his career in 1980 as a fourth-grade teacher before moving to the junior and senior high school. He also coached multiple sports and served as athletic director.
"The highlight has been the camaraderie of the two towns," Sanders said. "We have a unique situation of having two villages make up a district and working together."
That cooperation and community spirit shined brightest in the aftermath of the school fire, Sanders said. Volunteers and donors in the villages and surrounding areas responded to the need with all sorts of acts and funds to help keep students learning by setting up a makeshift school dubbed "Panther Camp" at a nearby Girl Scout Camp.
"It was amazing to do it, but I wish that upon no one," Sanders said.
In retirement, Sanders said he plans to keep busy by supervising student teachers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls starting this fall.