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SD Department of Education
March 2019  

Andrea Harstad (left) and Courtney Hentges
TEACHER FEATURE: Mentoring program pair reflects on two years of professional growth

“As part of my job interview, my superintendent [Lonny Johnson] informed me that if I took the position, I would be participating in the statewide mentoring program,” says Courtney Hentges, band and choir teacher in the Montrose School District. “I didn’t even know what it was.”

How does she feel now, as her second year of teaching comes to a close, and she approaches the end of her time in the mentoring program?

“Without the mentoring program, I think I would be more burnt out than I could handle at this point,” she said.

Instead, she feels optimistic about her career choice. She is building stronger relationships with her students, colleagues and community.

Hentges’ mentor is Andrea Harstad, fifth and sixth grade band director and assistant high school band director in the Canton School District.

“In the band world, we talk about retaining students,” Harstad said. “We put so much time and energy into that little 10-year-old. What’s going to make that 10-year-old become an 18-year-old in our program? How do we retain them? Keep them motivated? Well, it’s the same thing with teachers.”

Harstad wants all new teachers to know, “Everybody’s got your back. Everybody wants you to succeed. Everybody wants you to do well and be happy and do good things with your students.”

Striking a balance
Early in the mentoring relationship, Harstad sought to strike a balance between giving Hentges a detailed rundown of what she sees as a band director’s roles and responsibilities versus letting the new teacher feel things out on her own before requesting Harstad’s input.

Now that the pair has been meeting for over a year, Hentges likes that they’re past what she describes as the “awkward new relationship” phase. “We know each other a little deeper,” she says. “It’s easier for me to say, ‘I’m really struggling with this. I need help.’ Whereas last year, I think I would have been a little slower to come to Andrea with a problem. I’m a little more vulnerable with her this year.”

Expectations vs. reality
Hentges remembers as she was completing her teaching degree, she was most concerned about pedagogy—knowing instrument fingerings, how to do minor instrument repairs and run rehearsals. Looking back, she feels her worries were a bit naïve. During her first week of school, she quickly realized her biggest challenge would be classroom management.

Harstad has been a great help. After observing one of Hentges’ rehearsals, she cheerfully said, “Oh, you’ve got some performers in the classroom!” in reference to some students playing their instruments when Hentges was trying to provide instruction.

While Hentges had been getting frustrated with the students, Harstad suggested a strategy—let those enthusiastic students demonstrate what Hentges is trying to explain, thereby indulging their impulse to play, while also helping Hentges get her point across.

Harstad has also helped Hentges change her perspective in other ways. “I kind of go into robot mode when we’re preparing for a performance,” Hentges says. “Andrea helps me remember: They are human. They are children. They are my students. At the end of the day, it’s about relationships. It’s about making your students better people, not just better musicians.”

Keeping that in mind, Hentges has noticed her relationships with students have felt more easygoing this year.

Other things are getting easier too. Hentges remembers being so nervous her voice shook as she spoke at her first Christmas concert in Montrose. Whereas she says, “This year at the Christmas concert, it was like getting in front of a whole bunch of friends and making music.”

Building a network
Harstad has made a priority of helping Hentges build her support network, by introducing her to colleagues at professional development events and other gatherings so that she always has someone to reach out to and bounce around ideas.

Hentges also appreciates the networking made possible with other new teachers of all kinds through the mentoring program: “It doesn’t matter what your content area is when you’re trying to navigate those classroom management challenges.”

As she looks ahead to completing the mentoring program at the annual Mentoring Summer Academy this June 5-6, in Sioux Falls, she says it’s a bittersweet milestone. She and Harstad will stay in touch, but she knows their contact won’t be as frequent as life moves on for both of them. But she is grateful for the resources she’s gotten through the program, as well as the professional development. And she hopes to become a mentor herself someday.

Try it
As for Harstad, she plans to continue mentoring. “A lot of thought has gone into this program,” she says. “The speakers, professional development and resources are all well done. If you’re even thinking about becoming a mentor, go for it. It’s only a two-year commitment. If it’s not for you, that’s okay—at least you’ve helped one person stay in the profession.”

Math and science teachers honored at annual state conference

The South Dakota Science Teachers Association and South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics recently held their 27th annual joint conference, which has been renamed the SD STEM Ed Conference. Congratulations to the outstanding educators who received special recognition!

Presidential Award for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching finalists

PAEMST finalists (l to r): Katie Juhnke (Parker Elementary), Kelly Preheim (Armour Elementary), Christine Saltsman (Gettysburg Middle School), Traci Stiegelmeier, Kim Webber (Rapid City Area School District) (Not pictured: Brenda Velasco [St. Elizabeth Seton Elementary, Rapid City])

Katie Keppen, Harrisburg High School, Daktronics Outstanding Mathematics Teacher Award

Dan Van Peursem (right), University of South Dakota, Mathematics Distinguished Service Award, pictured with Allen Hogie

Nicol Reiner (right), South Dakota Department of Education, Friend of Mathematics Award, pictured with Cindy Kroon

Mark Iverson (left), Watertown Middle School, Outstanding Physical Science Teacher Award

Steven Rokusek (right), South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Friend of Science Award, pictured with Mark Iverson

Liz McMillan, Distinguished Service to Science Award

Board adopts new school library and world languages content standards

At its March 18 meeting, the South Dakota Board of Education Standards adopted new school library and world languages content standards. Find more information on the South Dakota Department of Education's Content Standards webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/].

State Library to offer online course on new school library standards

The South Dakota State Library will offer a self-paced online course titled LEARN & LEAD: An Introduction to the 2019 SD School Library Standards [https://sites.google.com/view/sdslschoollibstandards2019/home]. This one-credit course aims to introduce the new 2019 SD School Library Standards and help guide school librarians and other educators in their professional practice.

Course objectives:

  • Explore an overview of content standards in education
  • Examine the 2019 SD School Library Standards
  • Demonstrate understanding of the 2019 SD School Library Standards

Course credit:

  • One graduate or undergraduate credit through the University of Sioux Falls ($45)
  • or
  • 15 CEU hours (free via the State Library)

Course offered:

  • Summer 2019 (registration open)
  • Fall 2019
  • Spring 2020

To learn more or to register for this opportunity, visit LEARN & LEAD [https://sites.google.com/view/sdslschoollibstandards2019/home] or contact Alissa Adams [Alissa.adams@state.sd.us], the State Library’s School Library Technology Coordinator.

Help shape the future of teaching: Become a mentor

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.

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 will be supported and welcomed into the education community.

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

Visit the 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

Applications for new mentors are due May 1. Applications for new teachers are due June 15. Late hires will also have an opportunity to participate.

Those who are already participating in the program are not required to complete a new application.

Data Harness the power of data to help your students

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering a data use course for educators this summer. The Fundamentals of Using Data for Educators course provides educators with the skills they need to analyze and use data to answer important questions to drive positive change in their classroom, school or district.

The course begins May 30 and requires a one-day face-to-face workshop as well as some online work.

Participants choose one of three locations. On-site days will be from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. local time:

  • June 13, Rapid City [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=12526]
  • June 18, Watertown [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=12527]
  • June 19, Mitchell [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=12528]
Participants who wish to earn a graduate credit need to complete a final project. They will be given a week past the workshop date to finish the final project. It is not necessary to purchase a textbook or other material for this class. However, participants should bring a laptop that is able to browse the internet. Spreadsheet software such as Excel is also helpful for this class.

Participation is free, but graduate credits are available for purchase through the University of South Dakota at a discounted rate. One credit is available for the course. Those signed up for credit will also need to register with USD. They will receive an A-F grade.

Early Learning Early learning report now available

Late last year, the South Dakota Department of Education partnered with School Administrators of South Dakota to develop and disseminate a survey aimed at learning more about the landscape of preschool programming efforts in South Dakota as they currently exist. The results of that survey [https://doe.sd.gov/headstart/documents/SD-EarlyLearning-Report.pdf] are now available online.

IES Seeking presentation proposals for 2019 Indian Education Summit

The South Dakota Indian Education Summit targets educators of all content areas and grade levels, as well as administrators and school board members. The goal of the summit is to provide training on best practices in the field of Indian education. Have an idea for a presentation to share with your colleagues? Submit a proposal today! The 2019 summit is scheduled for Sept. 22-24 in Pierre.
Read more at https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2019/March/documents/RFP-IES-2019.docx.

School Library Awards
Watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=XtRUnA2E0P8
21st Century School Library Award applications open until May 1

The State Library recognizes schools with libraries that meet the characteristics of a 21st Century school library through their program, place, and professional. School librarians are encouraged to apply for this special recognition.

To apply:

  1. Complete the self-assessment tool [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/SLC/index.aspx#Guidelines]. School libraries that score 75 points or higher may proceed to Step 2. While school libraries that don’t meet the threshold of 75 points are not eligible to apply for the award, there is still benefit to completing the self-assessment. It is intended to be an informative tool to help guide decisions about school libraries and professional practices. The self-assessment can also be used as an advocacy tool with administrators, staff, school boards, and the public.
  2. Fill out the formal application [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/SLC/21stCentAward.aspx#.VtWLVLx-yK0].

 Photos courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society

Don’t miss spring learning opportunities at the Cultural Heritage Center

Teachers of all grades are encouraged to bring their students to the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre to experience South Dakota history any time throughout the school year, including for end-of-year field trips.

Guided and unguided tours are available. There is no cost for tours. For more information, visit www.history.sd.gov/museum. To schedule a tour, email Jeff Mammenga [Jeff.Mammenga@state.sd.us], South Dakota State Historical Society, or call 605-773-6000.

The South Dakota Experience galleries tell the story of South Dakota from American Indian life before the arrival of Europeans in the 1700s through the end of the 20th century. Students can walk through a tipi, “ride” a train and “milk” a cow, among other activities.

South Dakota History Adventures May 6-10
The State Historical Society is also partnering with the South Dakota Discovery Center for South Dakota History Adventures, May 6-10. There is a nominal cost to participate in this event. Find more information on the South Dakota Discovery Center website [https://sd-discovery.org/SD-History-Adventures]. This event is intended for students in grades 4-6.

No Smoking. No Vaping Dept. of Health seeks educator input by March 30

Today’s teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes, yet many don’t understand the risks associated with e-cigarettes, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

School input is needed to determine materials South Dakota educators need to help students learn about the health risks related to e-cigarette use. Please take the survey at https://ecigeducatorsurvey.questionpro.com and share the link with middle and high school teachers, school nurses, school counselors, and school resource officers. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. Participation is voluntary, and identities of respondents remain anonymous.

The survey closes March 30.

This study is being conducted by the South Dakota State University School of Communication and Journalism on behalf of the South Dakota Department of Health Tobacco Control Program. It has been approved by the South Dakota State University Institutional Review Board.

Questions? Please email Dastinee.Domonoske@sdstate.edu or the SDSU IRB compliance officer at Dianne.Nagy@sdstate.edu.

The Department of Health appreciates your input and help with distributing this survey.

Camping Fourth graders to receive free passes to state parks

Over 11,000 free one-day entrance licenses to state parks will be distributed in South Dakota for fourth graders through the “Go Fourth” program. The license extends to the family of the student and can be used any day between distribution and Dec. 31, 2019. If families choose to purchase an annual pass, the license can be turned in for a discount off the purchase price.

South Dakota State Parks, a division of Game, Fish, and Parks, partners with the South Dakota departments of Health and Education to put on the “Go Fourth” program. This project aims to get fourth graders and their families outside and active this summer with the overall aim of improving the health of South Dakota youth and families.

The goal of the project is encouraging kids and families to develop good habits, try new activities, and enjoy nature. Although the license can be used any day, participants will be encouraged to utilize them to attend in-park events, such as “Becoming an Outdoor Family,” and other educational and informative programs.

This year, Game, Fish, and Parks is recognizing “100 Years of Tradition” to celebrate 100 years of South Dakota State Parks. They want to give families an opportunity to start or continue their own outdoor tradition by camping in our beautiful state parks. In celebration they are giving away a tent camping package to help start new traditions. Kids can enter for a chance at four drawings throughout the camping season in June, July, August, and September. The package includes a tent, sleeping bags, cooler, camping chairs, and more!

Entrance licenses and information will be mailed to all South Dakota schools and distributed to students from there. Teachers’ help with license distribution and promotion of the project is greatly appreciated.

Questions? Contact Katy Hiltunen with Game, Fish, and Parks at 605-773-3391 or visit the Game, Fish, and Parks website [https://gfp.sd.gov/].

Upcoming Events

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

SD Early Childhood Education Conference
April 4-6, Pierre

SD School Library EdCamp
April 6, Rapid City and Sioux Falls

TIE Conference
April 7-9, Rapid City

English Learner Chats
April 16

The OSEU for Fourth Grade Teachers – Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms
April 24, Rapid City

State Historical Society History Conference
April 26-27, Pierre

SD Dept. of Education Annual Conference
May 29-30, Pierre

The Fundamentals of Using Data for Educators
June 13, Rapid City
June 18, Watertown
June 19, Mitchell

Save the Date! CTE Conference
July 28-30, Mitchell

Save the Date! Indian Education Summit
Sept. 22-24, Pierre

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