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Letter from the Secretary

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

I recently started violin lessons. I haven’t played for years, and decided it’s time to take it up again. I don’t typically write about personal matters in this column, but I’m finding the violin benefits me personally and professionally.

Education can be a consuming profession that too often leads to burnout. As school administrators, your to-do list is long and varied. Whether you work in a small district and wear a lot of different hats or in a large district with so many students it’s hard to make individual connections, you face significant demands on your time.

But are you making time for yourself? It’s easy to forget to do so.

The Smarter Balanced testing window opens this month, and I know this can be an especially busy time for educators and students alike. Just as your students need breaks, so do you.

I urge you to carve out time for something you enjoy in these coming months. Revisit a hobby you’ve been neglecting. Is the school gym quiet for a moment? Shoot some hoops. Can’t get out of the office? Take a short break and meditate at your desk. Toss around a football with colleagues after the final bell rings. Take a walk around the block.

It doesn’t have to take long. In one of his recent newspaper columns, I happened to read that Mitchell Superintendent Dr. Graves likes to make time to pop in to elementary classroom holiday parties.

My point is this: don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. It makes it easier to tackle your job feeling refreshed. I know I’m not the first to offer such advice, but it’s a message that can’t be repeated often enough, especially in a field like education.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.


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