Friday, October 23, 2020

Winter sessions added to webinar series for K-12 social studies teachers

The Department of Education is facilitating a series of webinars during the 2020-21 school year for South Dakota's K-12 social studies teachers. Some webinars feature national social studies education experts. CEUs are available. Collaborative chats are also offered to continue the conversation and support learning.

Questions? Contact Melinda Johnson with the South Dakota Department of Education.

Find recordings and other information from previous webinars in this Social Studies Google Folder.

Schedule and registration links:

Jan. 28, 2021, 4-5 p.m. CT: Learning About Intellectual Charity with Harvard Fellow Nate Otey
This webinar is open to all K-12 teachers. What is intellectual charity, and why does it matter? When you hear the word “charity,” you might think about donating money or time to a good cause. But there’s another meaning of charity that has to do with how we make arguments. Intellectual charity is a skill. We practice intellectual charity when we listen to and think about other people's arguments with precision and care - especially when we disagree. Being “charitable” in this context means treating other people’s arguments in the same way you want them to treat yours: as intelligent and well-intentioned. Give people the benefit of the doubt and try to assume best intentions. Sounds simple, but this principle is very hard to practice when you disagree strongly.

Why does intellectual charity matter? If you’ve ever been part of a discussion where a point of disagreement turns into a wave of assumptions, faulty evidence, and emotional appeals, you’ve experienced the frustration of arguing without an honest exchange of ideas. This type of miscommunication happens everywhere - social media, classrooms, workspaces, and kitchens. The strain of talking past each other, learning nothing new, and feeling misunderstood often ends the discussion without making any progress.

Join Harvard Fellow Nate Otey to learn a simple, practical set of tools that you can use to improve your students' charity skills so they can discuss current issues with precision and care.


Feb. 2, 2021, 3:30-5:00 p.m. CT: Teaching the Great War with Elementary Students, featuring the National WWI Museum
Think World War I is only a topic for middle and high school students? Think again! Join a National WWI Museum and Memorial educator in this exciting webinar to learn effective teaching techniques for use with elementary school students as they are introduced to World War I. Learn about engaging classroom activities, lessons about alliances, trench warfare, and propaganda and ideas for more in-depth student projects that will develop students’ historical research skills. In addition, we’ll discuss recommended K-5 reading to enrich your lessons. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding WWI and its continued impact and relationship to global situations, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

These lessons will address the following South Dakota social studies content standards:

K-12.H.1: Students will analyze how major events are chronologically connected and evaluate their impact on one another.

K-12.H.4: Students will identify and evaluate the causes and effects of past, current, and potential events, issues, and problems.

K-12.H.5: Students will develop historical research skills.


Feb. 4, 2021, 3:30-5:00 p.m. CT: Making Connections with World War I for Middle and High School Students, featuring the National WWI Museum
Need some assistance to help your students recognize the critical importance of World War I history and its relevance to contemporary life, especially with the current pandemic in mind? In this webinar led by a National WWI Museum and Memorial educator, the focus will be on the continued impact made by the Great War on a global scale and how it shaped the 20th and 21st centuries. Webinar attendees will spend time beyond the western front, examining participants from all inhabited continents, how and why they contributed to the war effort, and effects felt from war outcomes.

Content provided will be useful for teachers as they address the following South Dakota social studies content standards:

K-12.H.1: Students will analyze how major events are chronologically connected and evaluate their impact on one another.

K-12.H.4: Students will identify and evaluate the causes and effects of past, current, and potential events, issues, and problems.

9-12.H.4.1: Identify and distinguish between long-term causes and triggering events of WWI

9-12.H.4.7: Evaluate the causes and effects of the First World War on the United States

9-12.H.5.1: Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of sources.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Celebrating South Dakota Teachers


District Teachers of the Year

Aberdeen - Sara Weischedel
Agar-Blunt-Onida - Susie Rilling
Avon - Connie Gretschmann
Belle Fourche - Julie Erskin
Bon Homme - Ashley Armstrong
Brandon Valley - Michael Zerr
Britton-Hecla - Beth Renner
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
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
Milbank - Beth Wagner
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

Friday, September 18, 2020

Virtual Summit Oct. 7-8: How to Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything

The Virtual Coaching Summit was scheduled to be a two-day live event; however, instead of a cancellation due to Jill Jackson’s untimely death in August, Jackson Consulting will provide a pre-recorded Virtual Coaching Summit that will feature Jill Jackson as the facilitator teaching How to Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything, a simple, practical plan for knowing how to coach, what to coach, and who to coach on your staff.

When: Oct. 7-8; 8-5 p.m. (local time for your Central/Mountain location will be provided)

Audience: Principals and instructional coaches                  

  •        Districts involved in SPDG and SSIP grants  
  •        MTSS districts
  •        Principal Leadership and Development Program (PLD)
  •        If spots remain, the Coaching Summit will be open to other districts

Highlights of what participants will learn:

  •     How to set a principal’s instructional goal
  •     How to differentiate coaching time, focus, and approach based upon individual teacher needs
  •     How to approach teachers for coaching without feeling awkward or evaluative
  •     How to have a debriefing that results in action that sticks long-term
  •     How to build real trust with teachers without wasting time building buy-in

Participant Information:

  •     No registration fee
  •     Registration deadline: Sept. 25
  •     All participants MUST sign-up at this GoSignMeUp link

o The registration will require a password: Jackson2020

o Registered participants receive a web link and password each day to access pre-recorded sessions.

o There is a maximum capacity of 100 participants for the event, so register early.

  •     All participants will receive the How To Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything textbook.

o Textbooks will be mailed to participants’ district location. 

o For more information on contents of the text:

Questions? Email Teresa Berndt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Governor proclaims September is Suicide Prevention Month

Executive Proclamation
Office of the Governor
State of South Dakota

WHEREAS, suicide is a preventable public health problem. By knowing how to start the conversation, listen and provide support to someone in need, we can save lives; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, South Dakota had the second highest number of suicides ever reported in the state; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, 23.1 percent of high school students in South Dakota reported they had seriously considered suicide; and

WHEREAS, suicide affects everyone, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts and to make nonfatal attempts than men; and

WHEREAS, individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment; and

WHEREAS, we all can be the one to help prevent suicide by learning the five action steps: asking the question, keeping them safe, be there, help them connect, and follow-up; and

WHEREAS, hope, help, and healing is possible. Mental health and crisis intervention services are available in South Dakota, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) and the Crisis Text Line by text at 741741.

Now, therefore, I, Kristi Noem, Governor of the State of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim September 2020, as

Suicide Prevention Month

in South Dakota.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Time running out to register for CNA Regional Workshops

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering free virtual Comprehensive Needs Assessment Regional Workshops to all South Dakota schools throughout the 2020-21 school year. Limited openings remain in several cohorts (see schedule below). 

Workshops are facilitated by professionals trained and experienced in the South Dakota Comprehensive Needs Assessment. The process is designed to build a school’s capacity in conducting the needs analysis, looking at both qualitative and quantitative data sources.  

The workshops are intended for schools identified for school improvement (targeted support and improvement), Title I schoolwide schools, and any school that would like support conducting a needs analysis.

Title I schoolwide schools are required to conduct a needs assessment aligned to the framework by the end of the 2020-21 school year and once every three years. We would encourage Title I schoolwide schools to participate if they have not. The series consist of five sessions: 

1) Half day: introduction meeting and overview of the process

2) Full day: in-depth session on the four components, brainstorm data sources, crosswalk data sources, engaging stakeholders

3) Two full days: data work, complete summary templates

4) Full day: prioritize needs, root cause analysis

5) Full day: action planning

School teams must commit to attend all five sessions, send a team of 3-5, and complete the homework assigned between sessions.

To register, email Jordan Varilek with the South Dakota Department of Education.

Wagner area cohort

Lemmon area cohort

Aberdeen area cohort

 Huron area cohort

Chamberlain area cohort 

Session 1: SDCNA Overview 

 Sept. 24 (afternoon only)

 Sept. 22 (afternoon only)

 Sept. 21 (afternoon only)

 Sept. 22 (afternoon only)

 Sept. 24 (afternoon only)

 Session 2: Components, data sources, stakeholders

 Oct. 8

 Oct. 8

 Oct. 7

 Oct. 8

 Oct. 9

 Session 3: Data summary templates

 Dec. 14-15

 Dec. 10-11

 Dec. 14-15

 Dec. 17-18

 Dec. 10-11

 Session 4: Prioritize needs, root cause analysis

 Jan. 21, 2021

 Jan. 22, 2021

 Jan. 20, 2021

 Jan. 21, 2021

 Jan. 22, 2021

 Session 5: Action plan






Friday, September 11, 2020

No-cost registration available for Community Response to Child Abuse Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 1

The South Dakota Department of Education is again partnering with the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment to provide no-cost registration opportunities for up to two educators from each school district across the state. A certificate for contact hours will also be available if educators are interested. 

If your district has educators who would like to attend this virtual conference, please contact Shannon Malone with their name(s), email address, job title, school, and district. As soon as the registration link becomes available, they will be provided with the registration code.  

Monday, April 27, 2020

Governor Noem proclaims Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Executive Proclamation
Office of the Governor
State of South Dakota

WhereasSouth Dakotans believe in the importance of education for our students; and

Whereas, South Dakota teachers are our state’s greatest assets for ensuring student success; and

Whereas, teachers are at the forefront of the effort to prepare South Dakota students to graduate from the K-12 system ready for college, careers, and life; and

Whereashighly qualified teachers are trained professionals deserving of the utmost respect for the work they do, which often extends well beyond the regular school day, week, and year; and

Whereas, our state is dedicated to supporting new and current teachers as well as recruiting future teachers from among the ranks of today’s students by elevating the teaching profession; and

Whereas, South Dakota teachers have eagerly and capably stepped up to meet the unprecedented challenges of extended school closures due to COVID-19.

Now, Therefore, I, Kristi Noem, Governor of the state of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim May 4-8, 2020, as


in South Dakota.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Joint Statement on Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 Outbreak

The South Dakota Department of Education Special Education Programs, South Dakota Parent Connection, and Disability Rights South Dakota remain committed to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  We believe the rights of all students with disabilities must be maintained, even during school closures, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

It is our firm belief, despite the unprecedented challenge facing districts and families, that students with disabilities will be served by parties coming together to make decisions on how to provide services in a manner that ensures the health and safety of all parties and that allows for meaningful progress on IEP goals and educational standards.     

During this time, we encourage all parties to keep communication lines open and work together. Meetings may need to be held by phone or video conferencing, but time and effort should be on ensuring continued provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities to meet the IEP goals and services. At the conclusion of this outbreak, IEP teams can assess if services provided allowed the student to make sufficient progress on goals and educational standards, and then determine if any additional or compensatory services should be made available due to any limitations in the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education.      

Thank you for your attention to the health and safety of students and educational providers during this time. We will get through this by working together. If you have questions during this time, please feel free to reach out to the Special Education Program representative for your regionSouth Dakota Parent Connection, or Disability Rights South Dakota.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A message from the Secretary: Thank you

Dear South Dakota teachers and school personnel,

It’s hard to believe it’s only been two weeks that we have been dealing with school closures in South Dakota. I’m sure it feels much longer.

Your response has been remarkable. The vital in-person classroom connection that approximately 10,000 educators across South Dakota share with some 135,000 students was suddenly cut. But the need remains the same. And now we see you establishing new kinds of connections with your students with creativity, innovation, and courage.

From what I’ve observed over these past seven days, I’m confident that if this virus could be beaten by your unwavering devotion to your students and your tremendous flexibility in the face of these sudden and unprecedented challenges, you all would have conquered it by Tuesday.

However long this crisis endures, please know that your dedication serves as an example to all of us.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for South Dakota students.

Benjamin F. Jones, PhD
Secretary of Education 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Gov. Noem proclaims School Counseling Week 2020

Executive Proclamation
Office of the Governor
State of South Dakota

Whereas, school counselors are employed in public and private schools to help students reach their full potential; and,

Whereas, school counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development; and,

Whereas, school counselors help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal, and social growth of their children; and,

Whereas, school counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves; and,

Whereas, school counselors seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and complement comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society; and,

Whereas, comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school:

Now, Therefore, I, Kristi Noem, Governor of the state of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim
Feb. 3-7, 2020, as

School Counseling Week

in South Dakota.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Check out upcoming webinars to learn more about National Board Certification

Have you ever thought about pursuing National Board Certification? 

Teachers who earn National Board Certification demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in their profession. Teachers achieve this certification through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment of a teacher's pedagogical skills and content knowledge. 

The South Dakota Department of Education is hosting upcoming webinars for teachers to learn more about the process:
  • Jan. 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT: Join our DOE Zoom meeting to learn more about Components One and Two of the certification. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Jan. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT: Join our DOE Zoom meeting to learn more about Components Three and Four. Again, there will be time for Q & A.
Access information for both meetings: 
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 432 062 0552

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Join DOE’s National Board Certification cohort
For those teachers who decide to start the National Board Certification process this year, the South Dakota Department of Education is facilitating a cohort. To learn more, visit our National Board Certification webpage and contact Kelly Royer. Teachers can sign up for the cohort until the next National Board Certification registration deadline, which is Feb. 28.

The National Board Certification process takes one to three years to complete. While licensing standards set the basic requirements to teach in a state, National Board Certified teachers demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices similar to the certifications earned by experts in law and medicine.

South Dakota teachers who earn National Board Certification receive $2,000 per year for five years, with $1,000 paid by the South Dakota Department of Education and $1,000 paid by the teacher’s school district. The department will also reimburse fees personally paid by teachers upon their achievement of national certification. 

To learn more about this certification and stipend and reimbursement opportunities, visit our National Board Certification webpage.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Championing excellence in South Dakota's K-12 education system

A column by Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones

The South Dakota Department of Education has released its strategic plan, which will guide the department’s activities through 2024. Based on our professional experience, judgment, and knowledge, we believe the plan provides a concise illustration of the department’s future and work for our next generation. Chief among our priorities is championing excellence in South Dakota’s K-12 education system.

As part of our strategy, the department has initiated two implementation plans focused on decreasing the opportunity gap for students in poverty and establishing a networked community of allies focused on serving Native American learners to improve academic outcomes.

These initiatives have key points of overlap and will be primary efforts of the department and our partners in the coming years. Other priorities are expanding work-based learning and enhancing civics education.

The plan consists of four strategic directions: championing excellence, maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, and cultivating our professional culture. The strategies are intended to achieve the department’s vision of supporting local educators, investing in talent development, fostering research and innovation, supporting the whole learner, and reinventing accountability.

The department’s strategic plan clearly defines what we hope to be as a department in five years, and it describes who is working on which initiative and when. This is a living plan, to change as the needs of students change while keeping standards high and ensuring that a diploma is meaningful.

It is also important to note what this strategic plan is not. It is not the statewide plan driven by student achievement goals for South Dakota students. That is our state’s current Every Student Succeeds Act Plan. Instead, the department’s strategic plan details steps the department will take, as part of the wider effort of supporting South Dakota’s accredited schools, to improve our state’s educational environment. We will monitor progress on the ESSA plan, and make efforts to improve where there is need.

Together with our state’s educators and other important partners, our professional staff will begin to move in the strategic directions of maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, championing excellence, and cultivating our professional culture.

We embrace the work ahead.