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Letter from the Secretary

SD Department of Education
June 2017  
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Photo of Melody Schopp, SD Secretary of Education Letter from the Secretary

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the Statewide Mentor Program Summer Academies being held this month in Spearfish and Sioux Falls. The academies mark the culmination of the program’s first year and will bring together all of the participants for a time of celebration, reflection and professional development.

When I think back to the end of my first year in the classroom, it would have been wonderful to get together with a large group of my peers who had just gone through their first year as well—the stories we could have shared, the chance to network and get professional development targeted just for us.

I’m looking forward to hearing what these new teachers and mentors have to say about working together this past year. Their insight going forward will be valuable as we look to grow this program in the years to come.

Anecdotally, we have gotten feedback from a few mentors and new teachers already, and it sounds like their relationships have been mutually beneficial. One mentor found that working with her mentee, who was in another district, helped make her a better coworker to new teachers in her own district as she gained deeper insight into the concerns facing new teachers. Another mentor got great ideas from her mentee that she could use in her own classroom. And at least a couple of mentees were grateful for the outside perspectives of their mentors who work in other districts.

This year, 179 new teachers and 154 mentors across 60 districts participated in the program.

Please encourage your new hires who are first-year teachers to apply for a mentoring relationship if they haven’t already. And think of your veteran teachers who would make great mentors (they may not recognize this on their own). A nudge from you to apply may be just what they need to make the difference in the life of a new teacher.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students. I hope your summer is off to a great start.


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