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Letter from the Secretary

SD Department of Education
Aug. 2017  
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Photo of Dr. Melody Schopp Letter from the Secretary

When my children were growing up, my husband and I were resolute in encouraging them to go to college. I’m sure that’s not surprising to hear from a state Secretary of Education.

But it’s not enough.

I’m an exercise enthusiast, and I liken it to sending someone to the gym for the first time, with no guidance. Imagine walking in, facing those rows of ellipticals, treadmills and bikes, the weightlifting equipment, the pool, the track, that classroom with the huge mirror on the wall. Where to start?

It depends on your goals and what you like to do. And it’s why the gym is very busy in January, but not in July.

High school graduation can be like New Year’s Day: everyone is fired up to start something new. To be successful, though, requires a plan.

As you have likely heard, Gov. Dennis Daugaard is placing a strong emphasis on helping South Dakota students develop more focused plans for their lives after high school.

There are already great things happening in your districts: strong career and technical education programs, dual credit opportunities, school and business community partnerships. The Governor’s message is to keep it up and keep expanding.

Share your ideas about what’s working, what you would like to try, successes you want to share with other districts, challenges you need help overcoming.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I’d spend time asking my kids more questions: what do you like to do? What are some of your natural strengths? What are some careers where your interests and strengths might intersect? What might be the best pathway for you to prepare for those careers?

The gym might not be the answer at all right now. Maybe it’s a daily run through your neighborhood, an adult softball league or shooting hoops in your driveway. It just has to work for you.

Today’s students are likely to have several careers, and we serve them better by helping them understand that education isn’t an end in itself. It’s a tool for helping them attain their goals.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.


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