Photo: 2022 ATHENA Award recipient Jane Steinkamp is honored by Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce CEO Timm Quinn on Thursday. (GLORIA GIBBS/CONTRIBUTOR)

Jane Steinkamp was surprised by colleagues and other educators when it was announced that she would be the 2022 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient for the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce.

Steinkamp, the Assistant Superintendent of Education Services at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), was caught off guard by the announcement but shared with the crowd after the announcement that she ‘loves the work that she does.’

“It’s such a great honor, when I accepted it I said I love what I do and I love the people that I work with and that’s enough of a joy and pleasure so to be honored like this is amazing,” said Steinkamp.

ATHENA International was founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz and is partnered with many chambers of commerce and just about eight thousand leaders have been recognized with the leadership award.

The ATHENA Leadership Award in Stockton has been presented annually ever since 1986 by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce.

The award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of accomplishments, excel in their business or profession and have worked tirelessly for their community while actively mentoring others.

Steinkamp has served as an education leader for 34 years. One of Steinkamp’s accomplishments includes leading the SJCOE’s science, technology engineering and math (STEM) department to become the largest STEM department in the state.

Quality candidates emerge each year

According to Timm Quinn, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chambers of Commerce, every year the chambers put out a call for community members to nominate leaders for the ATHENA award.

Quinn also shared that he is ‘blown away each year with the number of nominations that come in every year.’

“We put out the call for nominations every year and get between 10 to 20 nominations of just amazing people in the community just doing some many things to  better the community so this means what we already know about Stockton is that it’s full of great people that are doing great things to better the community. We are lucky here in Stockton to be blessed like that to have so many people out there making a difference that goes above and beyond.”

Janine Kaeslin, SJCOE Associate Superintendent shared how Steinkamp has impacted her and her work.

“Jane is an extremely inspiring leader. ” Kaeslin said. “When you need something done she’s the person you go to and when you know you have a project and Jane comes into the room you know it’s going to be done and you know it’s going to be done well. She has a heart for children  for our community, she’s passionate, she’s a leader that walks her talk and when I grow up I wanna be like Jane.”

Steinkamp helped launch “TEACH! Academy”

Steinkamp’s leadership has also seen the launch of “TEACH! Academy” a program that allows students to graduate with a high school diploma and associate’s in arts degree in elementary teacher education. 

Once the students complete their bachelor’s degree requirements, graduates then have the opportunity to earn a complete teaching credential through SJCOE’s Teacher College of San Joaquin.

Steinkamp knows this award means that she is an ATHENA.

“I am a strong, powerful warrior on behalf of students and public education and trying to advance the needle for kids for the success of students,” Steinkamp said.

The ATHENA award will be presented at the annual ATHENA award luncheon on November 17 at the Stockton Golf Country Club.

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