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South Dakota Teacher of the Year Program


The South Dakota Teacher of the Year Program is made possible by the National Teacher of the Year Program. The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.

2024 South Dakota Teacher of the Year George Hawkins. Link to press release.

2024 South Dakota Teacher of the Year
George Hawkins, social studies teacher at Jefferson High School in Sioux Falls

2024 Regional Teachers of the Year
  • Region 1 Caitlyn Graf, Math, Milbank High School
  • Region 2 George Hawkins, Social Studies, Jefferson High School, Sioux Falls
  • Region 3 Valerie Nelson, Kindergarten, Chamberlain Elementary
  • Region 4 Lindsey Bachman, 3rd Grade, Mobridge-Pollock Upper Elementary
  • Region 5 Alyssa Walters, English Language Arts, Spearfish High School
SD Teacher of the Year Recipients
  • 2024 George Hawkins
  • 2023 Alyssa Cassels
  • 2022 Stephanie Ballard
  • 2021 Amanda Hargreaves
  • 2020 Amanda Harris
  • 2019 Erica Boomsma
  • 2018 Rachel Schaefer
  • <2017 Beth Kaltsulas
  • 2016 Sarah Lutz
  • 2015 Allen Hogie
  • 2014 LuAnn Lindskov
  • 2013 Katie Anderson
  • 2012 Pat Moller
  • 2011 Susan Turnipseed
  • 2010 Tom Mead
  • 2009 Paul Kuhlman
  • 008 Sharon Andrews
  • 2007 Charlotte Mohling
  • 2006 Barbara Dowling
  • 2005 Jensi Kellogg-Andrus
  • 2004 Roxie Ahlbrecht
  • 2003 Linda McKay
  • 2002 Jeffrey Lukens
  • 2001 Marilyn Herz
  • 2000 Bill Zubke
  • 1999 Kristine Malloy
  • 1998 Denise Bryan
  • 1997 Judy Kroll
  • 1996 Jacqueline Omland
  • 1995 Rebecca Ekeland
  • 994 Glenna Fouberg
  • 1993 Julie Ashworth
  • 1992 Lennis Larson
  • 1991 Deborah Van Pelt Platt
  • 1990 Carole Kasen
  • 1989 Linda Hillestad
  • 1988 Richard Meier
  • 1987 Darell Pribyl
  • 1986 Betty Hainy
  • 1985 Dorothy Mae Dubs
  • 1984 Jean Peterson
  • 1983 Ferald Loomer
  • 1982 Charlotte Hauge
  • 1981 Josephine Hartman
  • 1980 Jerry Opbroek
  • 1979 George M. Sutton
  • 1978 Merle J. Larson
  • 1977 Doris E. Christianson
  • 1976 Alma G. Reinecke
  • 1975 Douglas R. Carpenter
  • 1974 Florence Kribell
  • 1973 Otha Marie Joens
  • 1972 David W. Merrill
  • 1971 Gladys B. Curran,
    National Teacher of the Year Finalist
  • 1970 Eileen Gran
  • 1969 Arline Autio
  • 1959 Donald Rasmussen,
    National Teacher of the Year Finalist
  • 1954 Lois Thompson
Teacher of the Year Nomination Process

The goal of the TOY program is to recognize and honor the tremendous contributions of outstanding classroom teachers. Note: a classroom teacher is a person who has a class of his/her own and spends at least three or more hours per day, five days a week, for six or more calendar months during a school year in a classroom teaching students. School counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are NOT eligible.

A school district may choose to set up its own selection process for choosing a District Teacher of the Year, or use guidelines created by the Department of Education. The guidelines can be altered to fit a district s needs.

A District TOY candidate who wishes to be considered for Region and State Teacher of the Year must:

  • be a fully certified teacher;
  • be employed by a South Dakota accredited school district - pre-kindergarten through grade twelve;
  • have at least 3 full years of teaching experience;
  • be planning to continue in an active teaching status (supervisory and administrative responsibilities are secondary considerations) for at least 2 more years;

A District TOY candidate who wishes to be considered for Region and State Teacher of the Year should:

  • Have a superior ability to inspire students of ALL backgrounds and abilities to learn;
  • Be an exceptionally skilled and dedicated classroom teacher;
  • Have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues;
  • Play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school; and
  • Be poised, articulate, and have the energy to withstand the demanding schedule that would accompany selection as the South Dakota Teacher of the Year.
Each District Teacher of the Year becomes a nominee for his or her district's Regional Teacher of the Year Award. If the District TOY is selected as the Regional TOY, he or she becomes a nominee for the South Dakota TOY. If chosen as the South Dakota TOY, he/she then becomes a candidate for the National TOY. The National Teacher of the Year selection is not completed until the following Spring, so in order for a District TOY to be eligible for Region TOY and South Dakota TOY they must plan to be an active teacher for at least two more school years.