The Catholic Foundation has presented a Work of Heart Award to St. Joseph Catholic School principal Mary Kay Volker.

Volker joined St. Joseph’s in July 2001, bringing with her 19 years of experience as a principal in Houston, where she revived two faltering Catholic schools. She has continued that success of revitalization at St. Joseph’s, posting an increase in enrollment from 64 in 2001 to 127 in 2007.

“Our faculty and staff view Ms. Volker as an extremely self-giving strong leader who gives her staff the freedom and trust to use methods that are personal and unique,” said Maribeth May, director of development, who describes Volker as “attentive, enthusiastic and prayerful.”

Volker not only serves as an administrator but also teaches the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade math classes.

“The students love having her in the classroom as a teacher and enjoy her teaching techniques and constant reminders that they are at school to learn and work towards one day completing a college education,” May said, noting Volker is a familiar sight in the school’s classrooms.

Volker was recognized not only for her leadership in academic excellence but also for her setting a standard of outreach and giving back to the community for her students.

“Ms. Volker has taught our students the gift of giving,” May said. “Meals-on-Wheels, Daniel’s Den, the Baptist Orphanage in Waxahachie, the victims of Katrina and the local nursing homes are just a few organizations that have benefited from Ms. Volker’s Christian example and love to help those in need. Her enthusiasm permeates the faculty, students and parents of SJS.

“Ms. Volker has created a loving, joyful and family atmosphere that can be made only from one who loves the children deeply and truly lives in God’s spirit,” said May, who in a letter of nomination praised Volker for raising the school’s profile in the community.

“Five years ago, very few knew that there was a Catholic school in Waxahachie, thanks to the caliber of Ms.Volker, St. Joseph Catholic School is on the map in Ellis County,” May said in her letter of nomination.

“I am proud of her and all she has been able to do for St. Joseph’s,” May wrote, saying she personally feels blessed to have been able to work with Volker and learn from her.

An anonymous family funded the award program, which is being administered by the foundation. The program is intended to reward the teachers, administrators and staff of Catholic lower, middle and high schools in the Diocese of Dallas.

“The benefactors are looking for the ‘unsung heroes,’ those who deserve recognition for outstanding service and dedication,” the foundation’s Web site reads, noting honorees must exhibit traditional merit, including tenure and leadership; enthusiastic instruction; individual or unexpected acts of kindness or charity; Christian example; mentoring; and “simply going the extra mile for an individual student, family or the community.”

Nominations are made in writing and can be submitted by teachers, administrators, staff, students and families as well as outside parties.