Deb Hill-Haag recognized as Stribling Community Service Award recipient

Deb Hill-Haag recognized as Stribling Community Service Award recipient

Mexico resident Deb Hill-Haag has been named the 2020 Col. C.R. Stribling Jr. Community Service Award recipient. The Stribling Service Award is the top presentation of seven awards given annually by the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce Past Presidents to an individual who exhibits exemplary efforts on behalf of the community of Mexico for an extended period.

The complete list of award recipients will be released in December. Considering COVID-19 precautionary measures, the Chamber is exploring avenues for recognition of the 2020 award winners.

Deb Haag has been a lifelong resident and educator and supporter of all things Mexico. As a child attending the First Presbyterian Church, she jumped into service work as a volunteer for Vacation Bible School and Youth Group. Her service continued in the church where she has taught at Vacation Bible and Sunday School, Director of the Christmas Pageant, Director of Kids For Christ, led the Children’s Ministry Committee, and Elder. Currently she serves as a Children Moments leader, usher/greeter, liturgist, member of the and Outreach Committees.

"Service was ingrained in me by my parents, the excellent K-12 education I received in Mexico, and my call to education,” Haag said. “I am inspired to serve daily by my wonderful co-educators and students. I am blessed to have been raised in a community full of strong role models who pushed me to dabble in so many worthy causes and don't believe in the status quo! My service would not be possible if it were not for the support of my husband, Steve, and children, Deacon and McIntosh, who never cease supporting me and oftentimes get voluntold to help! I am humbled to tears to be a recipient of the Col. Charles Stribling the III Community Service Award as the works of other recipients of this award are awe-inspiring."

Many in the Mexico community have interacted with Haag through her role as the principal at Mexico Middle School where she has branded Making Minds Stronger and continues to ignite and motivate a passion for learning, not only with students, but for her staff and colleagues, by building relationships and prioritizing people first.

She began her tenure in education as Miss Hill, teaching 7-8th grade science at Mark Twain Middle School, where she received the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award. Upon the retirements of Jim Kropf and Ray Heaton, Haag joined the ranks of Mexico Middle School where she instructed science, served as librarian, and worked as summer school administrator. She was also appointed as the Professional Development Chairperson, lead an Advanced Ed Review, conducted district book studies, and fostered relationships with local businesses to further career development for MMS students. She is a previous recipient of the Mexico Ledger's Salute to Literacy Award and played a large role as a committee member that transitioned Mexico Junior High School to Mexico Middle School.

Before landing the role as MMS principal, Haag worked as assistant principal over instruction at Mexico High, attended the Harvard Principals Center New and Aspiring School Leaders Institute, led a second AdvancED review, and assisted in the formation of the first student Chamber Ambassadors. Haag also aided in advocacy and development of a plan that allowed MHS juniors to participate in the district-paid ACT exam.

Haag is an active leader in her professional organizations and is often invited as a presenter for the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MoASSP) Conference and the Aspiring Principals Conference. Haag has also logged much time as a curriculum facilitator, a member of the DESE Career and College Readiness Task Force (2018-19), the Northeast MoASSP middle school representative and president, and a Network of Educator Effectiveness master scorer. Deb was recognized as the Northeast District Missouri Association of Student Council Administrator of the Year in 2013, and the Northeast Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals Middle School Principal of the Year 2016.

Haag’s school and community work intersected when she became a passionate advocate for Bright Futures Mexico, a nationally-recognized program supporting children and families in need. Haag was a key player in beginning a Bright Futures MMS Site Council and fosters a successful lunch buddy program. Bright Futures endeavors lead to supportive efforts with the Mexico Sustainability Project; both programs have the substantial potential to change the trajectory of Mexico.

Other community involvement includes past service on the Miss Missouri Board and the Audrain County Sesquicentennial Committee; emceeing the Heart-to-Heart luncheon and the Martin Luther King Celebration; and getting conned into participating as a pseudo auctioneer at the Buddy Backpack Galas.

If you have joined in the YMCA’s Turkey Trot, you’ve likely been cheered on by Haag in her performance of “The Turkey,” her contribution in convincing the YMCA to host the annual event. She is also a tough pickleball competitor and kickstarted the first-ever YMCA pickleball tournament. She has served as a board of director, participating in the capital and yearly campaigns along with former roles with the Heritage Club lunch and member. Haag was named the 2018 YMCA Hero, following in her mother's footsteps.

She is a 1992 Mexico High graduate. Haag received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Middle School Education from Southeast Missouri State University. Her educational journey continued as she obtained a Master of Science in Educational Administration, an Educational Specialist Degree in Administration from William Woods University, and is currently working on her dissertation to attain her Doctorate Degree from William Woods University.

Haag is married to Steve Haag, Mexico High School Educator and Coach, and they have two children enrolled in the district, Deacon (16) and McIntosh (13).


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