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Letter from the Secretary

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

May 8-12 is Teacher Appreciation Week. I hope you have plans in your district to celebrate your teachers during this special time.

Think for a moment about the last time you attended a sporting event or other public gathering where members of the military were honored. The flags, the uniforms, the anthem, people standing with hands on hearts. It tends to choke me up. I’m guessing it does for you, too.

Now imagine if we honored teachers like that.

I recently met with representatives of the college football playoffs. They sponsor various events for teachers. I want to see if there is opportunity to expand the activities they sponsor to elevate the profession even further. You might recall that this past year, they honored all state teachers of the year at the championship game in Tampa. I was fortunate enough to be there when South Dakota’s own Sarah Lutz, 2016 State Teacher of the Year, got to participate.

I wish you could have heard and seen, in person, the reactions of those teachers. They were so grateful. There were more than a few tears among the big smiles. Standing before a stadium full of people cheering for you is pretty powerful.

I’ve never met a teacher who expects such adulation. But I’ve met many teachers who are deeply deserving of it.

Beyond such public celebrations, another important way to lift up teachers is by supporting those early-career teachers in your district. The first year of the statewide mentoring program is coming to a close, and I am greatly encouraged by anecdotal feedback I’ve heard thus far from participants.

That first year of teaching is so stressful. In your first year, how many times did you think to yourself, well, this definitely wasn’t in the textbook? Having a trusted, experienced colleague to turn to at times like that can literally be the difference between a teacher who stays in the profession and one who leaves after a year or two.

Please encourage first-year teachers in your district to apply to the program. It’s a worthy investment.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students and teachers.


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