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Letter from the Secretary

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

Forty years ago, I entered the classroom as an elementary teacher because I like working with kids. I never could have imagined the trajectory my career would take, ending here in Pierre, leading the state Department of Education.

Through all of it, my greatest joys have never changed: helping kids and working with fellow educators.

We spend our early years preparing for a career, the bulk of our adult lives working, and then what? I have been asked many times lately if I am counting down the days to retirement from state government, and I can honestly say no, as it is such a bittersweet decision.

I knew this part of my career would eventually come to an end, but I think I expected a clearer answer to the question: how will I know when I’m done?

I’ve always looked for ways to improve, whether as a practitioner in the classroom or as a public official. So I guess I should have known I’d never really feel as though the work were done.

But I hope I’ve done my part to make things better. I step away from this position knowing that the department is in good hands, our state’s education system is strong and there is clear vision for where we are headed.

Most educators retire quietly, having touched so many lives over the course of their careers. That makes writing this farewell message to all of you out in the field a humbling experience. While my role at the state level has put me in a spotlight, the work has never been about me.

It has been an honor to serve the students and educators of South Dakota. Thank you.

Celebrating SD’s National Title I Distinguished Schools
Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp recently visited Wall Elementary [http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2017/1130-WALL.pdf] and Fred Assam Elementary (Brandon Valley School District) [http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2017/1207-FAE.pdf] to celebrate their designations as National Title I Distinguished Schools. Kudos to students and educators at these two accomplished schools!

image of Wall Elementary student body and staff holding banner that has text Wall Elementary National Title 1 Distinguished School.

image of Fred Assam Elementary  student body and staff holding banner that has text National Title 1 Distinguished School.

Governor delivers state budget address
In his Dec. 5 budget address to state lawmakers, Gov. Dennis Daugaard indicated that state revenues continue to come in below projections. Learn more about what this means for K-12 education funding in the Governor’s Budget Report for Fiscal Year 2019 [https://bfm.sd.gov/budget/rec19/index.htm].

Appropriations Committee approves SFAB recommendations
The Department of Education presented the Report on School Finance Accountability Board Meetings: Summary and Recommendations [http://doe.sd.gov/accountabilityboard/documents/1117-Findings.pdf] to the Joint Committee on Appropriations at the committee’s Dec. 5 meeting. Meeting audio is available on the committee’s webpage [http://sdlegislature.gov/Interim/Documents.aspx?Committee=173&Session=2017#Meetings]. The committee approved the SFAB’s recommendations.

Child Count submissions due Jan. 19
The system for collecting Child Count data is now open. Child Count is an unduplicated count of all children with disabilities, ages 3-21, receiving special education and related services according to an individualized education program on Dec. 1 of each year. Access the system on the Department of Education’s Child Count webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/ofm/data-childcount.aspx]. School districts must submit their Child Count data by Jan. 19.
stock photo of hands holding up letters that spell out ENGLISH SD English Learner Chats to begin this month
Beginning Dec. 19, the Department of Education will host monthly webinar sharing sessions for educators who work with English learners. Hear new ideas from colleagues, share ideas and ask questions. Find details, including several planned topics of discussion, on this flyer [http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/17/Nov/documents/EL-Chats.pdf].

SD’s National Blue Ribbon Schools honored in Washington, D.C.
Representatives from each of South Dakota’s three National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017 attended an awards ceremony Nov. 6-7 in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to these South Dakota schools!
Images of representative from Robert Bennis Elementary being presented award.
Robert Bennis Elementary (Brandon Valley)
L to R: Tim Sylliaasen, 4th grade teacher; Karen Kluin, reading specialist; Principal Kristin Hofkamp; Aba Kumi, director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program; Mary Mudder, special education teacher; Cody Linneweber, 4th grade teacher
Images of representative from Frederick Elementary being presented award.
Frederick Elementary
[https://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners/ winning/17sd103pu_frederick_area_elementary_school.html]
L to R: Paula Tschosik, Title I director; Aba Kumi, director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program; Principal Jessica Ringgenberg
Images of representative from Robert Bennis Elementary being presented award.
Immaculate Conception School (Watertown)
[https://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners/ winning/17sd100pv_immaculate_conception_school.html]
L to R: Principal Carol Dagel; Aba Kumi, director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program; Katie Mellor, Superintendent of the Sioux Falls Diocese
Stock photo of biology teacher. Nominate an outstanding biology teacher

Want to recognize a great science teacher in your district? Nominate him or her for the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers and honors teachers of the life sciences in grades 7-12.

Sanford Health sponsors a $1,000 grant for the winning teacher to use for professional development and/or classroom materials. Each state’s winner is also invited to the Honors Luncheon held at the NABT Professional Development Conference in the fall and receives additional materials and prizes from national sponsors.

NOTE: A nominee does not need to have a majority of his or her class load in the life sciences, as this can be a challenge in small school systems where a science teacher might teach all of the sciences and sometimes math, etc. He/she just needs to have consistently taught and currently be teaching life sciences (life science, biology, environmental science, AP, dual credit, etc.)

Selection Criteria
1. Candidates must currently be teaching biology/life science (includes middle school) and must have devoted a significant portion of his/her career to the teaching of biology/life science.

2. Candidates from public, private and parochial schools are eligible.

3. A minimum of three years of teaching experience is mandatory before applying for the OBTA award.

4. Candidates do not need to be members of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

5. Unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated from year to year.

6. Candidates may receive the award more than once, after 10 years.

Selection Process
To nominate a teacher, email the following information to Julie Olson [Julie.olson@k12.sd.us].

  1. Name of nominee
  2. School
  3. Email address of nominee
  4. Phone number
  5. Nominator’s name and email address

Olson will alert nominees via email and send them guidelines for applying.  Nominators will be asked to write a letter of recommendation for the teacher being nominated. 

Nominees must complete their applications by March 30, 2018.

Graphic with text site assess
Mobile app designed to support school and district site assessment
The SITE ASSESS comprehensive tool [http://rems.ed.gov/docs/SITE_ASSESS_Flyer.pdf] from U.S. Ed. helps school and district personnel examine safety, security, accessibility and emergency preparedness. The app generates a customized to-do list that can be used in the short and long term, prompts teams to share pertinent information with first responders and contains relevant resources on several education facility and safety topics.

Image of cover of report

SD school health efforts highlighted in national publication
South Dakota is among several states highlighted in Achieving Impact [http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.chronicdisease.org/resource/resmgr/school_health/NACDD_SuccessStories_FINAL.pdf], a new publication of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. The report highlights achievements of select states related to implementation of the school health area of a cooperative agreement funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here’s a direct link to South Dakota’s project information [http://doe.sd.gov/schoolhealth/newsletter/2017/documents/CDC-PD.pdf].
Image of two arrows pointing opposite directions. Text on top of arrows DUAL CREDIT. BOR develops Dual Credit Advisory Tracks
South Dakota public universities have developed advising materials for high school dual credit students. A series of Advisory Tracks were created, which group together majors that share similar program requirements and may have preferred courses that should be taken to fulfill general education requirements. Find more information on the Board of Regents website [https://www.sdbor.edu/administrative-offices/academics/ReducedTuitionDualCredit/Pages/HSDC-Advisory-Tracks.aspx].
Upcoming Events

Except where otherwise noted, details on the following events are available at GoSignMeUp [http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/].

New Special Ed Directors Webinar Series
Dec. 12
Jan. 23

SD-STARS Monthly Webinar
Dec. 14
Jan. 24

Effective Core EL Program
Jan. 4, Pierre
Jan. 5, Sioux Falls

ACCESS 2.0 Assessment Workshop
Jan. 16, Pierre
Jan. 17, Watertown
Jan. 18, Mitchell

2017-2018 Program Improvement Meetings
Jan. 22, Rapid City
Jan. 23, Pierre
Jan. 24, Aberdeen
Jan. 29, Mitchell
Jan. 30, Sioux Falls
Jan. 31, Brookings

Board of Education Standards
Jan. 26, Rapid City


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