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Letter from the Secretary

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SD Department of Education October 2014  
Letter from the Secretary

Jones County seniors participating in online learning

Thank you to all the districts who have hosted me over the past few weeks. It’s always fun to get out and visit schools this time of year. With homecoming season in full swing, it can be a very colorful experience. I had the opportunity to stop by Haakon County on Disney Character Day!

One of the most exciting things I’ve seen, though, is the strong response to reduced-cost dual credit courses. Shakespeare told us, “all the world’s a stage,” but seeing students taking advantage of these online learning opportunities, I’m convinced that all the world’s a classroom. A student need not live close to a population center or college town. Most of the schools I’ve visited this fall, and of course the majority of schools across our entire state, are in rural areas, but no matter—these students are all plugged in and working hard to get ahead.

Several districts are also working to provide in-person support to students taking online college readiness courses in math and English. I applaud these efforts and hope the number of students taking advantage of these courses continues to grow as well. These courses are vital in helping students avoid costly, non-credit bearing coursework at the postsecondary level.

Educators are also busy taking advantage of unique learning opportunities, at events like the Indian Education Summit and the Systems Change Conference.

The Indian Education Summit took place Sept. 28-30, in Pierre. Around 400 educators, school board members, tribal members and others attended. In addition to keynote speakers and breakout sessions, this year’s event featured panel discussions led by school board members and students. We learn so much from each other’s stories, and these panels engaged presenters and audience members alike.

The Systems Change Conference is coming up Oct. 15-17, in Pierre, with the Teacher of the Year Banquet scheduled for the evening of Oct. 16. This is always a fun night, celebrating outstanding teaching. I hope you’ll make plans to attend. Click here for more information. Also, meet the six candidates for 2015 South Dakota Teacher of the Year, by visiting doe.sd.gov.

As always, thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.


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