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SD Department of Education
Oct. 2020  
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Dr. Jones SECRETARY’S COLUMN: K-12 Connect program launches

Face-to-face learning is best. I know I don’t have to tell you that. It’s what educators, students, and communities want, and I know that schools are doing everything they can to maintain in-person learning.

Nonetheless, as the pandemic continues, so does the need for distance learning. So, how do we make the most of this situation? We strive to make distance learning, when it’s necessary, the best it can be.

The first step is access. To that end, Governor Noem recently launched the K-12 Connect program to provide free internet service to those students whose families cannot afford internet connectivity in their homes. With the widespread use of distance learning, this connectivity is crucial to ensure students maintain access to their schoolwork.

Families in your schools who are eligible for this program should be receiving letters in the mail, with instructions for taking advantage of the program. Letters were mailed Oct. 26, and the enrollment deadline is Nov. 20.

The free service will last through June 30, 2021, at which time households will either need to return the equipment or continue the service at the household’s expense.

I hope you will help us spread the word about this valuable program to your schools’ families. We recently emailed communications pieces to school administrators, including a fact sheet and sample letter for families, for this purpose.

You can find more information at k12connect.sd.gov.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.

Governor Noem announces K-12 Connect

Governor Kristi Noem has announced the launch of K-12 Connect, a program to provide internet service at no cost to eligible K-12 students in their homes for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

"Given the unprecedented disruption for many of our K-12 students, we want to make sure there isn’t a gap in learning this year," said Governor Noem. “So many South Dakotans are stepping up to help, and I want to thank the South Dakota telecommunications companies that are teaming up with us to make this access possible.”

Eligible households will receive a letter indicating eligibility and identifying a telecommunications company to call to access free internet service through K-12 Connect. To enroll, eligible households must call the telecommunications company noted in their letter to set up service. Providers will install the necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Internet service will be provided through June 30, 2021. After that time, the household must return the equipment to the provider or continue services at the household's expense.

Eligible households must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Have at least one student currently enrolled in an accredited South Dakota K-12 school; and
  2. Must meet the income eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced school lunch program [https://doe.sd.gov/cans/documents/20-Income.pdf]; and
  3. The household must not have been subscribed to a fixed broadband internet service as of July 1, 2020.
Enrollment closes Nov. 20, 2020.

K-12 Connect is a partnership of the South Dakota Governor’s Office, Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, Department of Education, and participating telecommunications companies.

More information, including options for households who may qualify but don’t receive a letter, can be found at k12connect.sd.gov.

Telecommunications companies who are participating in K-12 Connect include:
Alliance Communications Cooperative
Beresford Municipal Telephone Company
Faith Municipal Telephone Company
Fort Randall Telephone Company
Golden West Telecommunications
Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative
Kennebec Telephone Company
Long Lines Broadband
Midstate Communications
RC Technologies
Santel Communications Cooperative
Swiftel Communications/Brookings Municipal Telephone
TrioTel Communications
Valley Telecommunications Cooperative
Venture Communications Cooperative
West River Cooperative Telephone Company
West River Telecommunications Cooperative

Applications now open: Teaching Online Certificate

One teacher – with administrator approval and letter of reference – from each attendance center in every accredited K-12 school system (public, non-public, tribal/BIE) may now apply for the opportunity to take coursework to earn the Quality Matters© Teaching Online Certificate. Administrators may identify one individual from their building to participate.

Registration is continuous for the 23 cohorts that will run in 2021 starting in January.

Funding for this opportunity is made possible through the Department of Education’s Rethinking K-12 Education Models, or REM, grant. For more information, please contact Stephanie Hansen [stephaniea.hansen@state.sd.us] in our Division of Learning and Instruction or visit our REM Grant webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/grants/rem.aspx].

Time commitment:

  • Participants must complete all coursework and then serve in a leadership or mentor role for other educators in their school
  • Seven courses over 11 weeks (most asynchronously)
  • Two sessions of synchronous meetings (two hours each; two consecutive days) (outside of the teaching day)
  • On average, seven hours of coursework per week
Additional benefit: Each district/system will receive a subscription to Quality Matters and can take advantage of all the resources offered by QM over the three-year period of the grant.

Call for nominations: U.S. Presidential Scholars

The South Dakota Department of Education is seeking candidates for the state’s nominations for U.S. Presidential Scholars. The program was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and since that time, has honored more than 7,600 outstanding high school seniors.

The mission of the program is to recognize and honor outstanding high school seniors, and further encourage high achievement among all students. Since 2016, outstanding students who demonstrate excellence in CTE are also included for recognition.

This year each Chief State School Officer can nominate up to 20 students in the traditional Scholars program: 10 males and 10 females. Additionally, up to five students in CTE can be nominated. All high school seniors with an ACT composite score of 30 or higher graduating between January and June of 2021 who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and who attend public, parochial, or independent schools, as well as those who are home-schooled, are eligible.

To submit a nomination for the U.S. Presidential Scholar Program, nominators must submit a Program Application Form [https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/G33B92D] by 5 p.m. CT on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.

Learn more and submit nominations at https://doe.sd.gov/scholarships/USPSP.aspx.

Teacher of the Year Hargreaves selected as 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year

Amanda Hargreaves, a sixth-grade teacher at Mitchell Middle School, has been named the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year. Secretary of Education Ben Jones made the announcement recently at a special virtual event.

"The Teacher of the Year program shines a light on this honorable profession," said Secretary of Education Ben Jones. "The importance of great teaching simply cannot be overstated, and we see it in abundance among our state’s educators. Over the coming year, Amanda will serve as a representative of all South Dakota teachers, advocating for them and their students. With her energy and enthusiasm, I know she will be a fantastic State Teacher of the Year."

Hargreaves has taught in the Mitchell School District since 2011, first at Longfellow Elementary, where she helped establish an anti-bullying program. She has a master’s degree in educational administration. Now at Mitchell Middle School, she serves on the Principal’s Cabinet Leadership team and offers students tutoring help after school. In her science classroom, learning comes to life through activities like the Force and Motion Carnival, in which students design and create carnival games to demonstrate their understanding of Newton’s laws of motion.

A statewide panel of educators selected Hargreaves from among five regional finalists. The other finalists were Lisa Weier, Project Lead the Way, George S. Mickelson Middle School (Brookings); Marissa Whipple, second grade, Baltic Elementary; Spencer Cody, science, Edmunds Central Middle and High School; and Luke Erfman, computer/STEAM, rural schools, Meade School District.

As recipient of the honor, Hargreaves receives prizes including a $5,000 cash award from the West River Foundation and a $1,000 honorarium from the South Dakota Board of Regents to present a series of professional development seminars to aspiring teachers. Prize packages are made possible through the generosity of private businesses and organizations, including the South Dakota Retailers Association and the South Dakota Education Association.

In addition, Hargreaves will represent South Dakota as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The 2021 National Teacher of the Year will be announced during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in the spring.


Blue Ribbon Three SD schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020
Across the country, 317 public schools and 50 private schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020 [https://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/awards.html]. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Honorees will be celebrated at a virtual awards ceremony on Nov. 12-13. Congratulations to these South Dakota honorees!
  • Canistota Elementary
  • Timber Lake Middle School
  • Webster Area Elementary
2019-20 Report Card released

The 2019-20 Report Card [https://sdschools.sd.gov/#/home] has launched. One highlight was an increase in the College and Career Readiness indicator. Seventy-three percent of students hit the Coursework Readiness mark, compared to 68 percent last year. The High School Completion rate was up three percentage points (to 93 percent). Graduation Rate stayed steady at 84 percent. No indicators that rely on assessment data were available this year.
Congratulations to 21st Century School Library awardees

The South Dakota State Library celebrates the 2020 recipients of the 21st Century School Library Award [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/SLC/21stCentAward.aspx]! The 21st Century School Library Award recognizes school libraries as Effective, Enhanced, or Exemplary, based on performance in three areas: place, which refers to the learning environment (both physical and online), programming, and the professional. Award status is valid for a three-year period.


Bossman State Librarian Daria Bossman honored

Congratulations to State Librarian Daria Bossman! The South Dakota Humanities Council recently honored Bossman with the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award. She also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Emporia State University.

South Dakota Humanities Council Distinguished Service Award
South Dakota Humanities Council Distinguished Service Award [http://sdhumanities.org/media/blog/sdhcs-distinguished-achievement-in-the-humanities-award-winners-announced/] winners are selected based on their outstanding commitment to scholarly and cultural advocacy for the humanities in South Dakota. This advocacy is seen in presenting humanities-related events and programs, writing books and publications important to the humanities and providing funding or partnerships to sustain a vibrant cultural landscape. Bossman was selected for the Librarian category.

Bossman previously held the position of assistant state librarian for development. Prior to this, she was the Library Director at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, for 15 years. Bossman has been an educator and librarian for 40 years in the states of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. She is a community leader and volunteer and has helped local South Dakota libraries (many rural) connect with numerous SDHC events, including annual One Book South Dakota discussions and One Book Author tour events. Under her direction, the State Library has been a conduit for the distribution of dozens of SDHC book titles to rural schools and public libraries that otherwise could not afford to purchase new books. Bossman is married to Bill Bossman, and they have three adult sons and four granddaughters.

Distinguished Alumni Award from Emporia State University
Bossman graduated from one of the first-ever distance education cohorts offered by Emporia State University's School of Library and Information Management in Sioux City, Iowa. As South Dakota State Librarian, she successfully advocated in 2016 for ESU to re-establish that distance learning for students from the five-state area, including South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

In 2016, joined by others in the original South Dakota cohort, Bossman convinced SLIM Dean Wooseob Jeong that South Dakota's lack of a master's librarian program would create a pressing need for librarians as veteran librarians begin to retire. Within four months, arrangements had been approved and enrollment opened for the 2017 fall semester.

As State Librarian, Bossman emphasizes paraprofessional training, placing state documents online for easy public access, and promoting libraries as a more accurate and concise information source than internet searches, among other priorities.

resources/needs October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

The Dyslexia Handbook for Teachers and Parents in South Dakota [http://doe.sd.gov/Dyslexia/documents/Handbook-17.pdf] is available to help parents and educators learn more about dyslexia and includes additional resources for teachers to access if they suspect a student may have dyslexia. Visit our Dyslexia webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/Dyslexia] for the dyslexia handbook, a brochure [https://doe.sd.gov/Dyslexia/documents/Brochure.pdf], and many other dyslexia resources.
E-rate trainings being held virtually

E-rate trainings are being presented in two-hour modules through mid-December. Each module corresponds to a particular step of the E-rate application cycle. Trainings are differentiated for novice, veteran, and general audiences. Sessions begin with a presentation followed by Q&A. Session recordings will be posted on DOE’s E-rate webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/ofm/sderate.aspx]. Please register via this Survey Monkey link [https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Erate_Training_Fall_2020].

  Nominate outstanding biology teachers

Congratulations to last year’s Outstanding Biology Teacher Award recipient Lisa Fuccello from Brandon Valley High School!

The Outstanding Biology Teacher Award honors teachers of the life sciences. Nominated teachers need not be full-time life science teachers; rather, they must be consistently teaching some amount of life science.

OBTA recipients are awarded a plaque and a $1,000 stipend sponsored by Sanford Health. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers, and each state's awardees are honored at the NABT National Conference each year.

To nominate a teacher, email the following information to the SD OBTA Director Jeff Peterson; jeff.peterson@k12.sd.us.

  1. Name of Nominee
  2. School
  3. Email address
  4. Phone number
  5. Your name and email should Jeff need to contact you.
After receiving the nomination, the nominee will be notified and encouraged to start the application process. A committee reviews applications in the spring and selects the next OBT.

Upcoming Events

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

SD-STARS training – Exploring Attendance Data
Oct. 27, online

Top 20 online session: Following our North Star
Nov. 10

Board of Education Standards
Nov. 16, Sioux Falls

SD-STARS training – Analyzing Quantitative Student Data
Nov. 18, online

Special Education – Legal Issues Related to Bullying, Restraint and Seclusion
Nov. 18, online


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