Zebra Homepage

DOE Blog

SD Department of Education
Jan. 2020  
Teacher Feature TEACHER FEATURE: Freshman Academy an investment in success

“If you want to change your high school, there’s no better place to start than in the ninth grade,” says Dr. Todd Novak, who is in his 11th year running the Freshman Academy at Washington High School in Sioux Falls. “What you invest in your ninth-grade students will pay out over the next four years.”

The structure
Washington invests heavily in its ninth graders and enjoys dividends in its graduation rate. With the strength of its diversity and despite the significant economic barriers that some students and their families face, the school’s graduation and completer rates are consistently on par with Sioux Falls’ other high schools.

Novak explains that the Freshman Academy applies a middle school approach by having a team of teachers share a common group of students. The Academy consists of five teams, each made up of three teachers: an English teacher, a math teacher, and a biology teacher. Each team has 80-95 students in common. For an hour each day, that teacher team meets for collaboration and professional development related to supporting their freshmen. Each day’s meeting has a distinct focus:

  • Data Day: Missing assignments, absences, grades, discipline
  • Program and professional development
  • Talk about every student . . . again! Plan next steps.
  • Action day: parent contacts, meet with students, email or contact other stakeholders.
  • A day to celebrate students and recharge teachers
  • Additionally, teachers meet for 45 minutes each week with their fellow content teachers in the Academy.
“Essentially we say to Academy teachers, ‘Welcome to our school. For an hour a day, you’re going to meet with two other professionals who have your same students and your same challenges. You’ll get to learn from them, and they from you. One day each week, you’ll also meet with four other teachers who teach the same content as you, and they’re going to share with you everything they’re doing – ideas, scope, sequence,’” Novak says. “The support is transformational.”

It’s about the adults
“It’s all about the adults,” Novak says. “That may sound counterintuitive, but to most effectively support freshmen, we’ve got to get the adults on the same page. When the administration and the teachers are working together, and there’s good collegiality, good accountability, and a good exchange of information, things go well.”

Spring conference with Scott Habeeb
When Novak was just beginning with the Freshman Academy, he came across the work of Scott Habeeb, a principal, presenter, and author from Virginia, who started the Freshman Transition Network. The two are now planning a conference in Sioux Falls on March 28, called “The Ninth Grade Opportunity: Transforming Schools from the Bottom Up,” based on Habeeb’s book of the same title. Habeeb and Novak will provide the keynote addresses, there will be breakout sessions and a networking lunch. Details and event registration information can be found at toddnovakedu.com/.

Treating freshmen as leaders
“The goal of the Freshman Academy at Washington is to help every freshman successfully transition to 10th grade,” Novak says. “We know that if a freshman makes it to 10th grade, their chances of graduating go up significantly.”

A program that has evolved out of Novak’s work with the Freshman Academy is the Connections leadership camp [https://www.toddnovakedu.com/blog/2019/2/19/connections-video-released], which he leads with Matt Kiesow. Washington High School annually hosts two summer sessions of this 10-day camp. Approximately 60 students attend each session and are broken into teams of approximately 10 freshmen with two upperclassmen mentors.

Mornings are dedicated to academics, including a novel study; hands-on, project-based math; and High School 101, which covers concepts like GPA, credits, and high school rules and regulations.

In the afternoons, students participate in a variety of competitive leadership development events. At the end of each event, students gather to process the event. This debriefing begins with mentors telling stories about how they saw students on their teams lead that day. This segues into freshmen sharing stories. The goal is to turn a competitive event into an opportunity to lift each other up.

“We are calibrating expectations,” Novak says. “We want students to think about what just happened. When we’re successful, this is how we should treat each other. When we’re frustrated, this is how we should treat each other. At the end of 10 days, they’ve had a common, significant experience in high school. They are better equipped to support their peers when they all hit the first day of high school.

“One of the best compliments I ever received as a professional was after we’d been doing Connections for about three years. The lead daytime custodian pulled me aside one day. He’s there all summer and kind of sees what we’re doing with the kids. He said, ‘I just wanted to let you know, the freshmen are different. What you’re doing in the summer, it’s making a difference. I’m getting after them less. They’re taking care of each other better; it’s just different.’ That was a lot of fuel in our tank.”

Novak recently gave a TEDX Talk on his work: My Life Among Freshmen and the Adults Who Teach Them [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kckZZ9Jgqsc&t].

He also writes about his work at toddnovakedu.com/.


South Dakota teachers, school counselors go above and beyond with professional certifications

Five South Dakota teachers and three school counselors earned national certifications in 2019. Teachers achieve National Board Certification through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment of their pedagogical skills and content knowledge. The National Certified School Counselor certification recognizes counselors who demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills in school counseling.

Read more at https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2020/0107-NBCT.pdf

Andy Jensen Chester Area teacher receives professional development scholarship

Congratulations to Andy Jensen of Chester! Jensen has received the Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. This scholarship brings together agricultural educators with four or fewer years of experience and immerses them in three days of professional development that addresses issues specific to the early years of teaching agriculture.

From your colleagues: Why pursue National Board Certification?

The South Dakota Department of Education is facilitating a cohort for teachers interested in pursuing National Board Certification, a widely known and respected professional certification. The cohort registration deadline is Feb. 28.

National Board Certified Teachers have developed and demonstrated the advanced knowledge, skills, and practices required of an outstanding educator. State law requires stipends to be paid to teachers who earn NBC for five years and possibly more. To learn more, visit our NBC webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/nationalboard/] and contact Kelly Royer [kelly.royer@state.sd.us].

Hear from some of South Dakota’s newest National Board Certified Teachers about the value of pursuing this certification and doing so with the support of a cohort.

Carli Flemmer, English, Northern State University Center for Statewide E-learning
The cohort was a reassuring resource that I would encourage anyone pursuing National Board Certification to join. The best part about the cohort was the support and guidance I received from my mentor who was a National Board Certified Teacher in my content area. Her advice and willingness to collaborate and share her own reflections throughout the journey made me a more effective and reflective practitioner.

Pursuing National Board Certification is intense, yet so worthwhile. This professional development opportunity pushed me to reevaluate and analyze my priorities in the classroom. I found great comfort in knowing the work I prepared for each component immediately impacted students in my current classroom, which was different from education courses I have taken in the past. Overall, it has been a humbling and inspiring experience.

Kari Jungclaus, Rapid Valley Elementary, Rapid City Area School District
As I pursued National Board Certification, having a cohort of teachers going through the same experience helped me stay focused on my goal and also offered support and encouragement along the way.

One of the most important aspects of pursuing National Board Certification for me was becoming a more reflective practitioner. Analyzing my own instructional practices helped me be more intentional and purposeful in my teaching. It was an amazing form of personal and professional development.

Karen McGuigan, West Middle School, Rapid City Area School District
I chose to take part in both the state cohort and another within my district. Having people who have gone through this process was invaluable. Their guidance and support helped me to focus my efforts on developing myself as an educator.

National Boards components force you to reflect on every aspect of teaching. Continual reflection and improvement are what make good teachers even better. I decided to pursue National Board Certification because I was ready to be an even better teacher.

Cari Olson, English Learners Program Coordinator, Harrisburg School District
National Board Certification requires extensive technical writing. As part of the cohort, I was teamed with incredible mentors who probed for deeper reflection on decisions I initially thought were made automatically but were actually evidence of knowing and implementing best practice. I also valued their suggestions for replacing narrative-style writing, which sounds nice, with straightforward evidence, which scores higher.

All fees are reimbursed, and there’s a stipend. The feeling of accomplishment in completing this challenge is highly rewarding. I grew as a professional through a level of reflection and analysis I haven’t experienced in any other process.

Perkins V Accountability Indicators: Now taking public comment

South Dakota is developing a state plan for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the federal law overseeing funding of career and technical education. Proposed Accountability Indicators are now open for public comment. View the proposed indicators on the department’s Perkins V webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/cte/PerkinsV.aspx]. Look for the Accountability Indicators for Public Comment link.

Public comment is now being taken and can be submitted in two ways: via email to DOECTE@state.sd.us or via regular mail to South Dakota Department of Education, Attention: Laura Scheibe, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501.

The deadline to submit public comment on the Accountability Indicators is March 13, 5 p.m. CT.

Since January 2019, the South Dakota Department of Education has been gathering input and holding targeted school and stakeholder discussions to develop the state plan.


Mentoring Summer Academy presentation proposals due Feb. 28

The Department of Education is seeking proposals for breakout sessions at the 2020 Mentoring Summer Academy. More than 850 new teachers and mentors who are participating in the statewide mentoring program will attend this event scheduled for June 3-4 in Sioux Falls.

The purpose of the Mentoring Summer Academy is to provide a time of celebration, reflection, and professional development. Presenters will be reimbursed travel expenses and will receive $150 per session for their work. The Mentoring Summer Academy will be held in Sioux Falls at the Denny Sanford Premier Center June 3-4, with the breakout sessions on June 4.

Proposals are due by Feb. 28. Find more information on the Proposal Application page [https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sdSummerAcademy20].

Civics Education Civics education plan created

The department’s three-year plan for the enhancement of civics education in South Dakota is now available on our Civics Education webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/civics.aspx]. A group of stakeholders helped to develop this plan, which outlines strategies, goals, and action steps.

The department is committed to ensuring that South Dakota students graduate from the K-12 system prepared to actively participate in society at all levels—local, tribal, regional, state, and national—as informed and engaged citizens. High-quality civics education is crucial to achieving this outcome.

Questions? Please contact Melinda Johnson [Melinda.Johnson@state.sd.us] with the South Dakota Department of Education.

Students South Dakota Math Standards aligned to Integrated Mathematics courses

The South Dakota Math Standards are now aligned to high school Integrated Mathematics courses. A team of South Dakota teachers collaborated to align state math standards to Integrated Math 1, 2, and 3. Find the Integrated Mathematics Alignment Supplement on DOE’s Mathematics Content Standards webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/math.aspx], under the South Dakota Mathematics Standards heading.

colorful people State Library offering self-paced online course for school librarians

Registration is open for Diversity and the School Library [https://sites.google.com/view/learnleadsdslschlib/courses/diversityschlib], a self-paced online course for school librarians. The course was developed from content delivered at the State Library's annual School Library Boot Camp focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in relation to the school library and the classroom. The course will run from Feb. 1 to March 1 and can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit or CEU.

CPR Annual reminder: CPR and AED training resources on DOE website

CPR is not a graduation requirement; however, all districts need to incorporate into district curriculum the skills necessary to perform hands-only CPR and awareness in the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator). The South Dakota Department of Education must annually make school districts aware of available resources for use in providing this instruction, which can be found on the department’s CPR Resources for Schools webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/cpr/].

Stakeholders from various state and nonprofit agencies and health/physical education teachers have compiled these resources and contacts for districts to access when implementing CPR training.

A certified teacher is not required to be an authorized CPR or AED instructor to oversee this instruction. However, any CPR course that results in the students earning a completion card must be taught by an authorized CPR or AED instructor.

The Department of Education is also required to annually collect and report to the South Dakota Legislature information regarding how CPR is being taught in schools. This information is gathered annually via an electronic survey. Read this year’s survey results [https://doe.sd.gov/cpr/documents/FinalReport-1219.pdf] on the DOE website.

Any questions concerning the CPR/AED requirements can be directed to Teresa.Berndt@state.sd.us.

Cybersecurity Nominations due Jan. 31 for inaugural Cybersecurity Education Award

Beginning this spring, the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award will be presented annually to two educators – one elementary and one secondary – who instill in their students skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity and related subjects. Award nominations are due Jan. 31. Learn more in this Homeroom blog entry from the U.S. Department of Education [https://blog.ed.gov/2019/10/nominations-open-inaugural-presidential-cybersecurity-education-award/].

National Youth Science Camp Encourage seniors to apply for National Youth Science Camp

Two South Dakota high school seniors will be chosen to attend the National Youth Science Camp, which honors academic excellence in STEM and promotes leadership through a lecture series, hands-on research, educational activities, and outdoor adventures.

The application deadline is Feb. 28.

Please share this informational handout [http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/20/jan/documents/NYSC.pdf] with students and find more details on the National Youth Science Camp website [http://www.nysf.com/w/programs/nyscamp/].

Attendees get the opportunity to exchange ideas with scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate worlds. The nearly month-long experience includes lectures and hands-on research projects presented by scientists from across the nation; overnight camping trips into the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia; and a visit to Washington D.C.

The NYSC experience is offered at no cost to participants, so selected delegates may attend regardless of financial status. Contributions to the National Youth Science Foundation allow delegates to participate. Educational and recreational programming, as well as meals, lodging, and round-trip air travel are provided free of charge.

This year’s camp is scheduled for June 22-July 15.

Upcoming Events

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

Spring 2020 Book Studies via South Dakota Statewide Title III & Migrant Consortia
Registration open until March 15

SD-STARs & EL joint webinar
Jan. 29

SD Technology Education Association meeting
Jan. 30-Feb. 1, Pierre [http://www.sdtea.k12.sd.us/]

SD STEM Ed Conference
Feb. 6-8, Huron [http://www.sdctm.org/conference/annualconference.htm]

Student Sense-Making in Science
Feb. 17-May 8, online

CTE 101 Online Workshop
Feb. 19, Feb. 26, March 11

Board of Education Standards
March 16, Mitchell [https://boardsandcommissions.sd.gov/Meetings.aspx?BoardID=32]

TIE Conference
April 19-21, Sioux Falls [https://www.eventsquid.com/event.cfm?event_id=8310]

South Dakota Early Childhood Education Conference
April 23-25, Sioux Falls [https://sdececonference-org.doodlekit.com/home/index]

SD Education Conference
May 27-28, Oacoma [https://doe.sd.gov/title/2020-conference/]

Save the Date:Top 20 Training
July 28-30, Chamberlain

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

View printable version of this newsletter.
Contact us with your story ideas.
State Home Page | Disclaimer | Accessibility | Privacy Policy
© 2020 S.D. Department of Education, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501 - (605) 773-3134