In the News - What's happening in SD Counts and ESA 6 & 7?

ESA 7 SDC Teacher leader is showcased in the Illuminations new newsletter - "Bright Ideas" - see below - September 14, 2009

ESA 7 SDC teacher is named Federal Education Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Education! - see story below - August 5, 2009

ESA 6 SDC teacher awarded PAEMST Award - see text and pictures below

ESA 6 SDC teacher elected ESA 6 Teacher of the Year Award - see text and pictures below

Illuminations' Latest Success -
Cindy Stofferahn
Cindy Stofferahn

Imagine having your whole year planned out before stepping foot in your classroom. Cindy Stofferahn, third grade teacher at Sturgis Elementary School in South Dakota, already knows what she is teaching today, tomorrow and for the rest of the year.
Stofferahn, with the assistance of another teacher, created a binder filled with Illuminations lessons from which she will teach throughout the school year. “I am confident the lessons I am teaching from are beneficial to student learning, because the lessons are inquiry-based and follow the standards I need to teach,” said Stofferahn.
Stofferahn has applied the lessons to promote student learning across grade levels, as first and third graders worked to complete the lesson As People Get Older, They Get Taller. Stofferahn and a fellow teacher brought their classes together in order to gather data and chart their results.
The teachers observed that student pairs helped one another throughout the lesson, and coming together allowed older students to actively engage younger students and deepen their learning. “Students were working in groups and supporting each other in their learning,” said Stofferahn. “They were openly discussing the lesson.”
Moving forward, Stofferahn plans to continue to use Illuminations lessons that align with the South Dakota third‑grade standards. She encourages her colleagues to use Illuminations as well, because it can often times support the textbook material and — simply put — because it’s free.

Meade teacher selected as an ambassador for the U.S. Department of Education

By Kayla Gahagan, Journal staff
A Meade County school district teacher has been selected as an ambassador for the U.S. Department of Education.
Carol Halter-Waider, a math and language arts teacher for kindergarten to fifth-grade students at Stagebarn-Piedmont Elementary School, received one of 13 teaching ambassador fellowships through the U.S. Department of Education.
She was selected as one of 10 teachers who will remain in their classroom this year and work part-time for the U.S. Department of Education. Another three teachers will become full-time employees of the department for one year.
Now in its second year, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowships were created to give outstanding teachers leadership opportunities to learn about national education policy and to contribute their expertise to those discussions. The fellows, in turn, provide outreach and communication about federal initiatives to other educators on behalf of the department.
LynnDee Fenster, a second-grade teacher at Stagebarn, said Halter-Waider is a "hands-on" teacher who makes an effort to know about educational issues in and outside her classroom.
"She's always really on top of things," she said. "She always knows what's going on."
The fellows are participating in a four-day summit this week at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C. During the year, the teachers will engage in education policy discussions, work with Education Department officials in various program offices and participate in a variety of education projects.
"Enlisting the support of teachers and other educators is crucial to the success of the national movement to reform American education," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote in a statement. "I look forward to working with this year's fellows as partners as we discuss how to recognize and reward teachers, professional advancement, high standards and other key issues."
Halter-Waider applied for the ambassadorship along with 1,400 other applicants and was the only teacher selected from South Dakota.
Department of Education officials said the 13 teachers were selected for their strong record of leadership, effect on student achievement and insight into education policy from school and classroom experience.
Fenster said Halter-Waider is known for her effectiveness with students.
"She's very outgoing, very bubbly," she said. "The kids just love her."
Contact Kayla Gahagan at 394-8410 or


July 9, 2009


President Obama today named more than 100 science, math, and engineering teachers and mentors as recipients of two prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence. The educators will receive their awards in the Fall at a White House ceremony.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to the best pre-college-level science and math teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates, going either to science and math teachers in grades K through 6 (as it is this year) or to those teaching in grades 7 through 12.

Winners of the Presidential Teaching Award receive $10,000 awards from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for a White House awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.

“There is no higher calling than furthering the educational advancement of our nation’s young people and encouraging and inspiring our next generation of leaders,” President Obama said. “These awards represent a heartfelt salute of appreciation to a remarkable group of individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping others and in doing so have helped us all.”

The individuals receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching this year are:

  • Vickie Ahlstrom, Lehi, UT
  • Charles Bertsch, Polson, MT
  • Mary Black, Dubuque, IA
  • Georgia Boatman, Kennewick, WA
  • Michele Brees, SeaTac, WA
  • Stacie Broden, Southbury, CT
  • James Brown, Albany, NY
  • Sharon Brown, Middle River, MD
  • Jane Callery, East Hartford, CT
  • Susan Carter, University City, MO
  • Cary Cermak-Rudolf, Roseburg, OR
  • Melissa Collins, Memphis, TN
  • Kathleen Conroy, Charlotte, NC
  • Zan Coonce, Reno, NV
  • Jo Anne Deshon, Newark, DE
  • Jeri Doane, Edmond, OK
  • Kari Dombrovski, Saint Cloud, MN
  • Keri Dowdy, Mayfield, KY
  • Christa Duthie-Fox, Charlotte, VT
  • Candy Ellard, Austin, TX
  • Amy Ellis, Starkville, MS
  • Gay Lynn Erb, Caldwell, ID
  • Kathryn Eyolfson, Aurora, CO
  • Diana Fesmire, Alamogordo, NM
  • Erin Flynn, Roslindale, MA
  • Karen Fredricks, Newark, DE
  • Christi Fricks, Anderson, SC
  • Sharon Hall, Maineville, OH
  • Lana Hansen, Centennial, CO
  • Angela Hansen Cook, Fargo, ND
  • Michelle Harris, Anita, IA
  • Sherry Helus, Wamego, KS
  • Kathleen Hill, Whitefish, MT
  • Rebecca Holden, Chattanooga, TN
  • Laura Ann Hulsebus, Eagle River, AK
  • David Ireland, Rapid City, SD
  • Dana Islas, Tucson, AZ
  • Haley James, Toney, AL
  • Kristen Jarboe, Frankfort, KY
  • Linda Kehr, Klamath Falls, OR
  • Sandra Kelish, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Barbara Kelley, Grapevine, TX
* Rebecca Kitts, Pierre, SD
  • Amy Knerr, Carmel, IN
  • Susan Kunze, Bishop, CA
  • Anne Magaha, Rydal, PA
  • Mildred Marin-Torres, Yauco, PR
  • Loreen McMains, Omaha, NE
  • Mary Beth Meggett, Charleston, SC
  • Teresa Minogue, Canterbury, NH
  • Patricia Morgan, Norman, OK
  • Kimberly Mueller, Lumberton, NJ
  • Susan Naylor, Parkersburg, WV
  • Karen Nesbit, Franklin, WI
  • Cathleen Newton, White River Junction, VT
  • Jennifer Norford, Charlotte Amalie, VI
  • Monica Norwood, Little Rock, AR
  • Suzanne O'Brien, Macomb, MI
  • Halley Page, Athens, GA
  • Sally Pellegrin, Cleveland, OH
  • Carrie Persing, Chester, VA
  • Jon Phillips, Waterford, MI
  • Suzanne Pilon, Hilton, NY
  • Sara Rebecca Pittard, Ormond Beach, FL
  • Susan Poage, Berkeley Heights, NJ
  • Kendra Pullen, Shreveport, LA
  • Amy Radden, Evansville, WY
  • Charles Reynes, Castro Valley, CA
  • Debra Reynolds, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Kamilla Riek, Saint Louis, MO
  • Jennifer Rising, Lake Forest, IL
  • Natalie Robinson, Pleasant Grove, UT
  • Patia Rountree, Brooklet, GA
  • Regina Scott, Franklin, IN
  • Deborah Seaver, Milford, MA
  • Wendy Shelden, Rockledge, FL
  • Cheryl Silcox, White Mountain, AK
  • Jeanette Simmons, Pontotoc, MS
  • Kimberly Spencer, Yarmouth, ME
  • Barbara Stoflet, Minnetonka, MN
  • Melinda Storey, Mountain Brook, AL
  • Carol Swink Wooten, Raleigh, NC
  • DeAnn Swofford, Gardner, KS
  • Liane Tanigawa, Aiea, HI
  • Pamela Thompson, Madison, ME
  • Nola Wilkinson, Decatur, IL
  • Seanyelle Yagi, Honolulu, HI
Becky Kitts, center, with other state finalists Marcia Farrand and Amy Knudsen

Lisa Handcock named 2009 ESA 6 Teacher of Year -

Although facing tough competition, including other SD Counts Teacher Leaders, Lisa Handcock was presented ESA 6 Teacher of the Year Award at the ESA 6 Advisory Council Meeting April 9, 2009 in Pierre. Lisa is now eligible for the SD Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Lisa, and good luck at the state level. Also, congratulations to all of the rest of the highly qualified teachers that entered. It was a hard decision for the judges, so don't give up!

Lisa Handcock receiving Teacher of the Year Award from Superintendent Kevin Pickner