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SD Department of Education
May 2020  

TEACHER FEATURE: Congratulations to District and Regional Teachers of the Year!

Districts were invited to submit the names of their Teachers of the Year to the South Dakota Department of Education. Those teachers could then apply for Regional Teacher of the Year, one of whom will be named State Teacher of the Year in the fall. Congratulations to all District and Regional Teachers of the Year!

  • Region #1: Lisa Weier, Project Lead the Way, George S. Mickelson Middle School (Brookings)
  • Region #2: Marissa Whipple, second grade, Baltic Elementary
  • Region #3: Amanda Hargreaves, sixth grade, Mitchell Middle School
  • Region #4: Spencer Cody, science, Edmunds Central Middle and High School
  • Region #5: Luke Erfman, computer/STEAM, rural schools, Meade School District
A statewide panel of educators will select one of these regional finalists to represent the state as the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year. The 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year will be announced sometime this fall. That individual will be South Dakota’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

District Teachers of the Year
District Teacher
Aberdeen Sara Weischedel
Agar-Blunt-Onida Susie Rilling
Avon Connie Gretschmann
Baltic Marissa Whipple
Belle Fourche Julie Erskin
Bon Homme Ashley Armstrong
Brandon Valley Michael Zerr
Britton-Hecla Beth Renner
Brookings Lisa Weier
Canistota Crystall Becker
Canton Alexis Burwitz
Chamberlain Kari Toupal
Chester Area Laura Biagi
Clark Heather Fuhrmann
Corsica-Stickney Mike Tuschen
Custer Karen Karim
De Smet Jennifer Hojer
Deuel Karan Domina
Doland Katy Lyren
Edmunds Central Spencer Cody
Elkton Georgianna Jensen
Florence Sarah Spiering
Frederick Area Caitlin Podoll
Garretson Matt Schrank
Harrisburg Tamra Huffman
Henry Deanna Martens
Herreid Julie Graczyk
Lead-Deadwood Shannon Mollman
Lennox Lisa Muhs
Leola Nancy Kindelspire
Lyman Nikki Collins
Madison Central Kindra Wiese
Meade Luke Erfman
Milbank Beth Wagner
Mitchell Amanda Hargreaves
Mobridge-Pollock Ladonna Mielke
Parker Mindee Birnstiehl
Pierre Tom Rogers
Plankinton Michelle Karst
Rapid City Area Jamie Amundsen
Sanborn Central Jill Reimer
Sioux Falls Janelle Revier
Sioux Valley Don Sutera
Spearfish Chris Blain
Tea Area Janice Gilbert
Timber Lake Theresa Keller
Tri-Valley Jennifer Even
Vermillion Kelly Stone
Wall Ronda Edgar
Watertown Karen Johnson
Webster Area Ashley Hanson
Wessington Springs Julie Bruckner
West Central Nicole Harmon
Willow Lake Lindsey Tellinghuisen
Wolsey-Wessington Jackie Fauth
Yankton Beth Anderson

Wookiye First cohort of Wóokiye teachers selected

The first cohort of participants in the Wóokiye Project has been announced. South Dakota’s Office of Indian Education has chosen three pilot districts/schools with five teachers from each and an additional five teachers at-large from around the state, who will be recognized as Wóokiye teachers.

Wóokiye pilot districts/schools and educators

  • Timber Lake School District
    • Karyl Boldt
    • Tylyn LeBeau
    • Julie Marshall
    • Amy Sandquist
    • Jae White
  • Smee School District
    • Caitlin Friesz
    • Melvin Hill
    • Elverda Little Dog
    • Douglas Oliver
    • Terri Smith
  • Georgia Morse Middle School (Pierre)
    • Jessica Carr
    • Shannon Mack
    • Victoria Moore
    • Jason Stangeland
    • Stephanie Todd
  • At-large participants
    • Brian Brown, Rosebud Elementary
    • Anthony D. Flores, St. Thomas More Middle School (Rapid City)
    • Jeannine Metzger, Enemy Swim Day School
    • Matthew Rama, Thunder Valley CDC (Porcupine)
    • Natasha L. Thiry, Kennebec Elementary

Beginning this summer, this initiative, supported through a Bush Foundation grant, will be an opportunity for these South Dakota educators to create and implement a network of support that will help, aid, and assist them as they become proficient in using the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards. “Wóokiye” is a Lakota term meaning to help, aid, assist.

The Wóokiye teacher project will promote the OSEUs and support culturally responsive teaching practices.

Wóokiye teachers will receive training this summer and will attend required monthly virtual meetings. The three pilot districts/schools will also receive schoolwide professional development.

  • Wóokiye objectives:
    • Creating OSEU lessons and schoolwide plans
    • Modeling of culturally responsive classroom instruction
    • Culturally responsive training/cultural proficiency
    • Development of shared leadership/vision
    • Wóophe Sakowin classroom management training

Knebel Special education staff honored

Congratulations to Basil Knebel, Langford Area School District, who has received the Outstanding Special Education Staff Award! Nine other individuals were also nominated by parents for Special Education Staff of the Year.

Knebel has been featured in his local newspapers: the Britton Journal and Langford Bugle [https://www.marshallcountyjournal.com/news/la-teacher-recognized].

Parent Nominated Special Education Staff of the Year
Norma Brown Bull, Little Wound School System Gina Nelson, Rapid City Area School District
Jill Goertel, Sioux Falls School District Jessica Nordhus, Clark School District
Laura Harrison, Rapid City Area School District Jada Sulzle, Rapid City Area School District
Heather Hoeye, Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, Project SEARCH Ronald Ten Fingers, Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman School)
Roxanne Murphy, Meade School District

Robert Cordts Cordts named History Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Madison High School history teacher Robert Cordts! The South Dakota State Historical Society has named Cordts the 2020 History Teacher of the Year. This honor is one of the annual Governor’s Awards for History.

Cordts’ excitement for history is said to be palpable and tangible in his every lecture and activity. A prime example of this is his Native American Studies course, where he familiarizes students with the rich culture and traditions of the various tribes in the state. Cordts said he can’t think of anything that he would rather be doing with his life than teaching. In addition to teaching his students history, Cordts said it’s also important to teach them citizenship and leadership skills.

Cordts has been featured in his local newspaper: The Madison Daily Leader [https://www.dailyleaderextra.com/news/local/article_7a07b5e0-88be-11ea-a8c2-af59e2ee4514.html]

SDPB SDPB features distinguished educators’ tips for flex learning

Several of South Dakota’s award-winning teachers recently appeared on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s “In the Moment” with Lori Walsh to share their insight on how parents can help their students with learning at home [https://www.sdpb.org/blogs/education/teachers-of-the-year-offer-teaching-from-home-tips/]. Kudos to Amanda Harris, Erica Boomsma, and Lori Wagner for sharing this useful information!

Fuccello Fuccello named 2020 SD Outstanding Biology Teacher

Congratulations to Brandon Valley High School teacher Lisa Fuccello on being named South Dakota’s 2020 Outstanding Biology Teacher! Fuccello currently teaches human anatomy and biology. She has taught for 12 years in the Brandon Valley School District. One of her latest pursuits is training to become a Project Lead the Way – Anatomy teacher.

Fuccello coordinates blood drives at her school three times a year, regularly participates in and has presented at professional development opportunities, and volunteers at her church.

She was one of the founders of the Brandon Valley HOSA – Future Health Professionals and was awarded the 2018 Outstanding HOSA Advisor. Colleagues and students describe Fuccello as being positive, always smiling, genuine, dedicated, caring, and committed.

She will receive a travel grant provided by Sanford Health to help with expenses to attend the National Association of Biology Teachers Convention in Baltimore, Md., in the fall. She will be recognized at a formal luncheon there and receive gifts from national sponsors. Fuccello will also be recognized formally at the 2021 South Dakota STEM Ed Conference.

Cody among winners of President’s Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

Edmunds Central School District teacher Spencer Cody is a recipient of the 2020 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators [https://www.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators].

Cody is one of only seven educators across the country receiving this year’s award from the EPA and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for outstanding K-12 teachers who integrate environmental and place-based, experiential learning into school curricula. The award honors recipients’ leadership and commitment to environmental education and environmental stewardship.

“Mr. Cody’s passion for teaching is not only developing critical STEM skills and environmental awareness, it is inspiring and improving the lives of his students,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin.

Cody has taken students to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab in Mississippi to work with scientists collecting data on marine life in the Pascagoula Bay. He has also taken students on a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to work with inter-tidal and kelp forest specialists and visited the Salinas Valley to learn about innovative organic farming practices to decrease dependence on chemical applications.

Established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators seeks to recognize, support, and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by innovative teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning. CEQ, in partnership with EPA, administers this award to encourage and nationally honor outstanding elementary and secondary teachers who integrate environmental and place-based, experiential learning into school curricula. The program provides funding to help support educator awardee schools in their environmental education work and provides funding for the teacher’s professional development.

This year, seven educators received the 2020 PIAEE and three were recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as healthy school environments, environmentally friendly agricultural practices, reducing ocean litter, gardening, recycling, or STEM to teach sustainability to K-12 students.

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Tools for Teachers preview launching in June

Smarter Balanced will launch a preview of Tools for Teachers in June. South Dakota educators will have access to this brand new, higher quality suite of tools and supports that were carefully crafted to save teachers time, streamline lesson planning, and help students learn. Please also be aware that the Digital Library will be decommissioned May 28.

Read more at https://www.smarterbalanced.org/tools-for-teachers/

Prairie Awards Prairie Awards winners announced

The 2019-20 South Dakota Children's Book Award winners [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/CYS/prairie/201920/index.aspx] have been announced. This year’s voting deadline was extended one month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Librarians and teachers stepped up to help students in casting their votes, and more than 1,500 votes were submitted during the month of April alone. Thank you for all your hard work in making this year’s awards successful!

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Still time to sign up for mentoring program

The Statewide Mentoring Program provides a first-year teacher access to a mentor teacher for a period of two years and participation in a summer academy following the first and second year of employment.

Applications for the 2020-21 school year are open.

This is an excellent opportunity for experienced South Dakota teachers (current and retired) to share their skills and help guide beginning teachers. In addition, through this program, South Dakota’s newest teachers are supported and welcomed into the education community.

Mentors and new teachers who complete the mentoring program meet the credit requirements to renew their teaching certificate.

Alternative Certification teachers are required to participate in a state-approved mentoring program. Those who are in the Statewide Mentoring Program meet this requirement.

Requirements have also been established for districts that would like to receive funding to handle mentoring locally.

Visit the Statewide Mentoring Program’s webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/mentoring/] to learn more and find the following:

  • Applications for new mentors and first-year teachers
  • Program information for second-year participants
Those who are already participating in the program are not required to complete a new application.

Upcoming Events

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

Please note: Due to the fluid nature of COVID-19 concerns, face-to-face meetings are subject to cancelation, postponement, or shifting to an online platform. Confirm with event organizers before making plans to attend.

English Learner Handbook Workshop
May 19, online

Diversity and the School Library
June 1-July 1

Student Sense-Making in Science
June 8-July 31, online

Introduction to IEPQ
June 16, online

The Fundamentals of Using Data for Educators
June dates TBD

Advanced Data Use Skills for Educators
June 29-Aug. 16, online

SD EPSCoR virtual PD for K-12 science teachers
June and July three-day workshops

An Introduction to the 2019 SD School Library Standards
July 1-Aug. 1

Applying the SD Science Translations
July 8, Rapid City
July 22, Sioux Falls
July 23, Watertown
July 29, Pierre

Book study kick-off sessions: Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices

  • Grades 6-8
    • July 9, Rapid City
    • July 14, Sioux Falls
    • July 22, Fort Pierre
  • Grades 9-12
    • July 9, Rapid City
    • July 14, Sioux Falls
    • July 22, Fort Pierre

Board of Education Standards
July 13

Foundational Mathematics Workshop
July 20-21, Pierre

Top 20 Training
July 28-30, Online

Foundational Reading Workshops
Grades 4-8: July 29-30, Pierre
Grades K-3: Aug. 3-5, Pierre

Virtual Math Coaching Kick Off
July 30, Pierre

Indian Education Summit – rescheduled and going virtual!
Aug. 10

CANCELED: ExCITE! (formerly School Library Boot Camp)
Sept. 30, Aberdeen, and online through October

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